Hi there! Doing my first Yuffentine that I've done for a while. To be fair, all of my previous Yuffentines were a bit rubbish, but I'm so proud of this, I actually think I may have made my way into the hard world of Yuffentines with this one. Saying that though, I'm obviously biased, you're the only ones that can tell me whether I'm right or not. My attentions have mostly been directed towards ElenaxReeve and AmarantxFreya lately, but this is my much worked on 'Sexy, Stockholm Syndrome, BLOVE story', which I have tried to make as interesting and in character as I can. BLOVE means Bloody Love and it's a word concocted to correlate with this story, so with any luck, all will be revealed… mysterious…!

Please enjoy. This thing was my perpetual WIP; it's my baby, so please give it a chance. Thanks, I hope you read it. Ja ne! (I only just learned that phrase. How multicultural I am.)

'I've been watching your world from afar,

I've been trying to be where you are,

I've been secretly falling apart,


'To me, you're strange and you're beautiful,

You'd be so perfect with me but you just

Can't see, you turn every head but you don't

See me…'

'I'll put a spell on you…

You'll fall asleep,

I'll put a spell on you…

And when I wake you,

I'll be the first thing you see,

And you'll realise that you love me…'

'Sometimes, the last thing you want comes in first,

Sometimes, the first thing you want never comes,

But I know, waiting is all you can do,


'I'll put a spell on you…

You'll fall asleep,

I'll put a spell on you…

And when I wake you,

I'll be the first thing you see,

And you'll realise that you love me…'

'I'll put a spell on you…

You'll fall asleep,

I'll put a spell on you…

And when I wake you,

I'll be the first thing you see,

And you'll realise that you love me…'

Aqualung – Strange and Beautiful

"Valentine! She ran into the house on the right of the river! We're counting on you, over."

Vincent flicked the switch on his mobile phone to turn it off, and he slipped it into the pocket of his navy jacket, along with his black sunglasses and his cyanide tablet. He had been on the chase of the girl for nearly twenty minutes, and he was growing bored. Wordlessly he walked over the wooden bridge, past the sleepy houses with the peaked roofs, sticking close to the shadows of the Wutaian night. No lights were lit but the lanterns by the river, and they emitted a soft glow onto Vincent's sharp, elegant face.

The city was on the verge of a war against the ShinRa. The engraved cliff beneath which Wutai stood was atop a veritable gold mine of Mako, yet Da Chao was too precious, too holy to the people of Wutai to be destroyed. Lord Godo was too stubborn and loyal to his people to bend under the whims of the President, and thus warfare was on the tongue of every man and woman in both Midgar and Wutai.

Vincent Valentine, an esteemed member of the faction known as the Turks, a clique who were organized to clean up after the ShinRa, or to make the mess itself, had been sent into the town to take the daughter of Lord Godo, his only child, a young woman.

Her name was Princess Kisaragi, and she was the heir to the throne of Wutai; her name was Yuffie Kisaragi, and she wasn't going without a fight.

Vincent rapped softly on the door of the small hut near the entrance of the town, but there was no answer. He could hear a faint rustling behind the door, but no voices.

"Miss Kisaragi? This will all stop if you just come with me."

Again there was no answer, so Vincent gave the door a sharp kick, before lifting his pistol in one hand and a torch in the other. Flashing the torch around the room, he took an experimental step into the house, spinning quickly to aim the gun in the many dark corners. Once he arrived in the middle of the room, he pushed open the door, which divided her hall from the rest of the house from the and said sternly:

"I know you're in here, and I will find you."

His voice was that of a velvet aristocrat, so eloquent and soft, yet so quiet and serious. There was a moment of silence after he spoke, when suddenly the door slammed shut, and Vincent spun around to flash the torch on it. For a split second he caught an evanescent glimpse of a brown haired figure staring at him with a truculent snarl, but she was gone before he could say anything to her. She ran out of the circle of light that the torch projected onto the door, and he could hear her feet pattering around him, but she moved with grace and speed, and he found it difficult to keep track of her movements. Her shallow breath was everywhere in the air, but in one second he could feel it beside his ear, and in the next he could feel arms around his slender neck. He was pulled down to the ground by the weight on his neck, and he struggled as he felt his arms pulled behind his back, rendering him near powerless, forcing his gun and the torch from his hands. A kick in his back knocked the breath out of him, and he gasped for a moment before regaining the upper hand by pulling his torso up and pulling his body free of her grip, before spinning around and grabbing the wild, frenzied mess which had attacked him. He found his feet and stood up once more, but when the invisible enemy cannonballed into him, knocking him down once more, he managed to straddle her upper body and lean his knees on her arms. Her legs flailed wildly, but they could not reach high enough to kick the man who had her incapacitated by his body. His arm roamed the floor, and when his hand touched the torch, he switched it back on and aimed the bright ray onto the girl's face.

Her face was red, and a bead of sweat had ran down to settle on her lip, which was slightly bloodied from the fight. Her green eyes were creased to slits as the light from the torch touched them painfully, and her chocolate hair nearly obscured her view as her fringe fell about her face in drenched locks. She wriggled slightly as she spat bitterly at the man atop her:

"What do you want?"

"You, Miss Kisaragi." Vincent said grimly

From behind the torch, Vincent could hardly be seen, but his pale skin glowed slightly as some of the light resonated around his face. His thick raven hair shadowed his sapphire blue eyes so that they appeared to be hollow, and he grimaced as he leaned into the torchlight and muttered to her softly:

"And you're making that very hard."

He grabbed her wrist and pulled her up, iron grip stopping her from making a run for it, which she was trying hard to do. With one hand, he pressed her up against the wall and, with the other, he switched on the light, closing his eyes for a second to avoid being caught off guard by the momentary blindness. Yuffie gasped as the light flooded the room, before staring hard at her captor, trying to push his hand away from her blouse, to no avail.

"What do you even want from me?" she cried, "what can I do for you?"

Vincent shook his head in an attempt to move his cheekbone-length locks of black hair from his eyes, before opening his mouth to respond. His answer, however, was cut short by a vibration in his jacket pocket. He slipped his hand into his pocket and took out his cell phone, pressing a button and putting it beside his ear, saying softly:

"What is it?" He nodded to himself and answered the question, unheard by Yuffie. "Yes, I've got her. I'll bring her now."

He took the phone from his ear and put it back in his pocket, after which he turned to Yuffie and grabbed her wrists, pulling her close and lifting her over his shoulder. With Yuffie screaming behind his ear, Vincent walked out of her little home and into the black, starlit night, over to the entrance to the town where a black limousine was waiting to take Yuffie to the designated area which had been chosen to house her until negotiations had been made.

Vincent tapped with his gun on the tinted window of the car and waited for it to be rolled down. He said to the man who appeared:

"What do you want me to do with her?"

"Stick her in the back. You come too, I want someone to look after her for this evening to make sure she doesn't get any ideas. She comes from a long line of Ninja, we'll have to keep her watched."

"I'm no babysitter."

The man's eyes narrowed at Vincent, and he grabbed the Turk's shirt and pulled him down to his level, before growling angrily at him:

"You are what I tell you to be, got that Valentine?" Vincent was silent for a second, and so the man repeated with a whisper: "I said, got that?"

"Yes sir."

"Good. Get in the back. Put some cuffs on her, there should be some back there."

Vincent sat on one of the long seats in the back of the limo, and Yuffie sat on the other, facing him, examining her captor with disguised interest. As they drove past trees growing wild in the surrounding rural area, shadows danced on the Turk's face, black shadows onto pearl white skin.

He stared blankly out of the window, watching the Wutaian countryside roll past, gentle green under the light of the pale moon. The moon was always pale in Wutai, casting a silver light on half of Vincent's face, while the other half remained in the shadows of the car. His gaze was set, and he blinked his dark blue eyes slowly, his long black lashes settling on his cheekbones for a moment. His navy suit mirrored the colour of his cold, sapphire eyes, tailored specially to fit his tall, frail frame perfectly. He was too thin for his height, it was obvious, but he wasn't gaunt. His body was toned, but not ridiculously, yet he wasn't scrawny by any stretch of the imagination, because he was strong to a surprising degree. He had a handsome, defined face and thin lips set between chiselled cheekbones, moving little to smile or scowl. He was obviously not native to the country, having neither the Wutaian colouring nor the local tilt upwards of the eyes, and Yuffie guessed that he was probably from the larger Western Continent. His messy but inexplicably neat black hair had natural layers as it grew down to the nape of his neck, and it shone with flashes of green and blue when the moonlight struck it, the contrast of ebony and ivory when his hair met his skin. His dark bangs obscured some of his face, and he had to keep shaking his head gently to stop it falling in front of his vision. She gave a soft sigh. Why were the bad ones always so pretty?

"So what are you gonna do with me?" she found herself saying.

Her hands flew to her lips as if she was trying to scoop the words back in as they fell out of her mouth. Vincent's eyes moved lazily from the window to drop their gaze onto the girl who sat before him. He looked her up and down, before turning his head back to look out of the window. She was pretty, he'd grant her that, but he had heard that she had a mouth the size of Wutai itself. She was relatively nomadic as princesses go, and she and her father were always having arguments, which generally ended up having her disappear for a month or so and turn up later having forgotten the entire scrap had ever occurred. She was wearing an interesting outfit, very practical for combat. It consisted of a green, turtle necked top, which was cut off at her midriff, exposing her slim stomach, tanned ochre by the Wutaian sun. Her slender arms were also bared, though she wore a long, separate sleeve of tight fitting mesh on her left arm. Further down, she wore a pair of small beige shorts that descried a pair of long legs, which would have appeared fragile to him had he not been fighting with them but fifteen minutes ago. Again she wore a leg of mesh on her left appendage, which, by means of garter, held up a cream legwarmer which reached up to the knee. She wore another legwarmer on the other side, but no mesh, and a pair of little orange trainers on each foot, which she was fidgeting with awkwardly as she sat in the car. Her brown hair, which was a mix of toffee, fudge and chocolate, was shoulder length, and it flicked cheerfully up at the bottom of her hair. For some reason, which Vincent couldn't understand, she was smiling slightly at the Turk, and her emerald eyes flickered with earnest as she repeated the question bravely:

"Hello? Mr Suit? What are y'gonna do with me?"

Vincent turned his head to look at her once more, and he tapped his long fingers on his leg as he told her with a gentle shrug:

"I don't really know."

"What? Then, why have you taken me?"

"You're a prisoner of war. You're our hostage. If negotiations turn ugly then…"

The Turk's voice trailed off as he realised what he was about to tell her, and he realised he couldn't blatantly tell her that they would be forced to kill her.

"Oh," murmured Yuffie, understanding the gist of things regardless. Vincent was silent as Yuffie continued, "My…my father wouldn't let it get that far, I know it."

"I hope not. It wouldn't benefit Wutai or him." He sighed briefly. "However, as of yet, he has no evidence that your 'disappearance' was ordered by the ShinRa. You may simply be used as... a threat, I suppose."

Yuffie fell silent, and so she remained for the majority of the trip, until Vincent shifted uncomfortably and Yuffie remarked:

"You seem real nervous Mr…What's your name anyway?"


"Valentine, huh? Bet you must be picking up girls all the time then," she joked lamely, more for her own benefit, to calm her nerves, than to tempt a laugh from the silent man.

Vincent just looked at her humourlessly, and Yuffie gave an awkward shift of her own under his gaze. She gave a little smile before sticking one of her cuffed hands out to him and saying:

"Well, I'm Yuffie."

"I know."

She rolled her eyes and leaned back into the leather of the seat, staring out of the window boredly as the car purred along the dirt track roads on the Wutaian countryside. Suddenly they came to a stop, and Yuffie stared out of the car to see her new home, but found that she could see nothing but grass for miles.

"Hey Mr. Valentine? Valentine, where are we?"

"We're here."

With that, Vincent grabbed Yuffie's hands and pulled her roughly towards him, wrapping one of his arms around her upper body, rendering her motionless, and he took a syringe from his pocket and pushed it through the skin on her forearm, ignoring her shrieks of pain and her insistence that she hated needles. When the syringe had been taken out, droplets of the soporific liquid trickling from the puncture, Vincent flicked it away and held Yuffie's limp body tightly as she began to sink to the floor. Her eyes were drooping, and her mouth lolling, and Vincent quickly put his mouth beside her ear. The last thing that Yuffie heard before she passed out was Vincent's voice, blurred in her head, whispering:

"I'm sorry."

She finally opened her eyes, some two hours later, and the room she had been taken to was a blur of colours as her eyes adjusted to the light. She gave her surroundings a quick once over and found that she seemed to be sitting on a pale blue sofa, a light green blanket draped over her. She was in a cell with cream walls and no windows, and there was a table and a chair on the other side of the room. She gave a shake of her head, but as she did so, she could hear a fizzing sound, and she gasped and sat up.

Vincent jumped back as the Ninja bolted upright, nearly dropping the glass of water in which he had dropped a pair of headache tablets, which were merrily bubbling away as they dissolved in the liquid. He approached her again, stuck his arm out and handed her the glass, which she eyed warily. Vincent crouched down to her level and explained quietly:

"You hit your head as you fell. It's just a painkiller."

Yuffie shook her head stubbornly and shifted to the back of the settee on which she was sat, folding her arms, pouting, and being generally difficult, looking away from Vincent's honest face. He sighed and looked down to the ground, before standing up once more and placing the full glass on the table beside the arm of the sofa. Yuffie glared at him and muttered testily:

"You didn't have to do that, you know."

"I was following orders."

"I could've just closed my eyes!" She sighed and turned to face the back of the sofa, but continued softly, "where are we anyway?"

"You know I can't tell you that."

"I couldn't anything but land for miles!"

"I'm very sorry to hear that."

"Oh, now you find your sense of humour."

"I never lost it."

Yuffie stood up and put her hands on her hips, bottom lip jutting out in the way it oftentimes did when she was being at her most argumentative, which wasn't a rare occasion. She sauntered up to the passive man before her and, poking him in the chest with her index finger, she cried:

"You have to take me home! Kidnap is illegal! This entire thing is illegal! Believe me Valentine, I will not hesitate before suing the crap outta you."

"I don't doubt that for a second," replied Vincent, with a ghost of a smile haunting his face.

Yuffie sat back down and her hand crept grudgingly towards the glass of water on the table beside her arm, and she fingered the cold glass before picking it up, sniffing it and taking a gulp. The bitter taste crept through her mouth, and she fought the urge to retch while pulling a silly face as she was wrought with disgust at the liquid.

"Yeah," she managed, "yeah, it's a painkiller all right."

Vincent just remained silent and looked to the floor, before sweeping his hair from his face and slipping off his jacket, rolling the sleeves of his white shirt to his elbows and sitting on a wooden chair in the corner of the small room. He tugged his tie down and crossed one leg over the other, folding his arms and watching her silently as she regarded his little ritual with some interest.

"So...how long do you think I'll be stuck here?"

"You should probably only be incarcerated for a few days, depending on negotiations. The ball is in your father's court, Miss Kisaragi, it's his call."

"He wouldn't let me stay here, he'll find me, and get me out!"

"I hope that's true."

Yuffie paused, eyes welling with tears, but she brushed them away and growled bitterly to the suited man who sat before her:

"You doubt it?"

Vincent shrugged, his face displaying little interest in the conversation at hand. The princess was obviously agitated and scared, and he feared that anything he said would only make her condition worse, and he didn't wish to distress her.

"I don't know. It's not my place to say."

"What are you talking about Valentine? You're the only one here who can give me any fucking answers!"

"I don't know, Miss Kisaragi," Vincent insisted wearily, "I'm just here to look after you, I'm no negotiator."

Yuffie sighed and curled up on the sofa, pulling the blanket tightly around her body. She watched Vincent demurely, not sure what to say to him, or whether indeed to say anything at all. She couldn't stand a silent room, and the awkwardness was eating her alive.

"You know, I've never been kidnapped before. I'm a kidnap virgin."

Vincent just looked at her, and she shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. His eyes, so dark and deep, felt like they could probe and uncover her most private secrets by just looking at her. She shrugged and smiled awkwardly.

"So, where you from? You aren't Wutaian."

"… Nibelheim." Vincent replied eventually.

He decided to answer that question, deeming it to be a safe subject matter. She nodded with interest and crossed her legs to face him, tapping out a little tune on her feet with her hands.

"Got a wife? Kids?"

"… No."

"Yeah," admitted Yuffie, "I guess you don't really get to meet people with a job like this. The only hotties you meet you have to kidnap and kill, huh?"

"Something like that," replied Vincent absently.

"How about pets? I've got like twenty cats at home, I just take in strays and stuff."

"I used to have a goldfish," answered Vincent with a hint of a guilty smile.

"A goldfish?" Yuffie laughed, "That's hardly hardcore Valentine. Shouldn't someone like you have, you know, something like a huge dog or a Grand Dragon?"

"They were all out of stock," replied Vincent sardonically, before adding, "Miss Kisaragi, I think you should go to sleep.

Yuffie raised her eyebrow at Vincent mistrustfully. She had tried to engage him in conversation, more to try to calm her own nerves than anything, and his sudden suggestion of sleep made her nervous. She didn't realise that he had no agenda behind it, but for the first time, she felt properly frightened with him. She found it easy to feel comfortable, even with people she didn't trust, and she felt that she was doing well, until then.

"I don't want to. I don't know what'll happen to me if I do."

"What do you mean?"

"You might want to get me asleep so that you can do something to me. I don't know, you're the one who's used to this sort of situation," she suggested cattily.

"Don't be stupid Miss Kisaragi," Vincent growled angrily, "If I needed you asleep, I would've put sleeping pills in your drink instead of painkillers. Don't accuse me of things that I have no intention of doing."

"Then why the sudden suggestion, huh?"

"Because I don't want to talk to you, Miss Kisaragi. I'm not here to be your friend. Now go to sleep, or I will slip you something, and you won't like it."

"Fuck you, Valentine! I could have made your job a hell of a lot easier than I have! All I wanted was to be made just a little more comfortable, so just fuck you. Switch the God damned light off. Make yourself useful."

Vincent stared at her for a moment before calmly pushing himself from the chair and walking over to the wall. He flicked the light switch, and the entire room was abruptly fogged by black. Sighing, the Turk sat back down in his chair and blindly groped for the laces of his shoes. After untying them, he kicked them off and tucked them away under his chair, before wrapping his tailored jacket around his upper body like a blanket and bowing his head with the intention of sleeping.

Yuffie huddled up into a warm foetal position as she shivered with both the cold and with the effort it was taking her to hold back tears. She lay like that for about an hour, feeling miserable and pitiful. Shaking her head gently, she thought to herself:

What the hell kinda daughter of Wutai am I? I hardly even put up a fight... bastard Turk.

She was choked on her own swallowed back brine, palpitating viciously as she bit her lip to stop from making the pitiful whimpers which are inevitable as one cries. She savagely brushed away the water collecting in the corners of her eyes, kicking slightly with one of her be-trainered feet, before slipping off her shoes and looking over in the general direction of the sleeping Turk. He had stopped moving, and his breathing was soft and shallow. Yuffie sat up, blinking determinedly through the darkness in the room, before she softly got off of the sofa and stood shakily on the carpeted floor. Her feet were silent on the floor without her shoes, so she decided to leave them, and she tucked them quietly beneath the couch and groped for a wall. A soft light reflected in Vincent's black hair, and as the sheen caught Yuffie's eye, she realised something.

"Light? But I thought this place was completely sealed off...?"

She located the door, but found it to be practically airtight. She ran her hands around the periphery of the metal door, fingering the latch and the hinges, but after a while of searching, she came to the conclusion that the light wasn't coming through there.

With bated breath, the young ninja approached Vincent. She knew that he could probably dispose of her in a million different equally painful and equally imaginative ways, and she also knew that, if he caught her trying to escape, he would probably exercise one of these methods. Still, she had already realised that there was a strong chance that she would become a martyr for Wutai if she didn't do anything, and dammit, she wanted to live. Sticking out her arm, she tried to locate the source of light around Vincent, and when she dimmed the sheen, she knew that she had found it. Following the ray of light, she walked to the wall directly behind her and ran her hands along it, searching for purchase. Crouching down swiftly, she limbered up her shoulders, before she sprung up like a wild jack-in-the-box, groping blindly at the air. When she had reached the peak of her jump, she felt a cold kiss of metal touch her palm, and she felt air.

"A vent?" she whispered to herself.

She was so close, so close that she felt like crying. But how was she supposed to get up there without Vincent noticing? He was a Turk, his senses had been honed to breaking point, if he woke up while she was trying to escape, he'd be able to whip out his gun, aim and fire in less that a second. What's more, even in the dark of the room, he'd still get her in one shot. At that frustrating thought, tears did begin to run down her rosy cheeks, and she swept a stray lock of hair from her face as she softly collapsed onto the sofa. As she fell into it, it rocked back ever so slightly, its front two feet lifting clean off of the ground.

"It's not very heavy..."

A blush of colour swept over her face, and once more she was inspired with hope. She rolled gently off of the settee and landed on the floor silently. Still crouched, she spread out her arms as far as they would go, and she tried to lift the sofa. She could only lift the front part, however. Still, she attempted to lift it all at once, and it began to tip back, she gasped and grabbed for the front of it, and it slipped and fell to the ground with a light thump. Yuffie turned 'round and stared at Vincent, not daring to breath. He made a slight noise as he stirred, shuffled to the side and tightened his grip on his jacket, but he still slept. Yuffie let out a pent up breath, before turning the sofa the right way up and dragging it lightly across the carpet. Contrary to her fears, it made very little sound as is swept across the soft carpet, and soon enough it was set in place beside the wall. Standing on it, she reached for the grate and felt it's outline. It was large; certainly large enough for her to fit through, and it had a screw in each corner to hold it in place. She felt about her person to see if she had anything akin to a screwdriver in any of her pockets, but gleaned nothing. However, a flash of inspiration occurred and she pulled a little bronze gil from her pocket. Setting it inside the screw, she turned it. It was hard, and her jaw set hard as she turned; her fingers were beginning to hurt where the coin's edge bit into her skin, but she prevailed, and the screw fell from the grate and onto the floor in front of the sofa. Yuffie smiled, blew a lock of her fringe from her face and continued vigorously with the other three screws. Soon enough, though it felt like an eternity to the young Wutaian, they were all out. The fourth remained only slightly, and the grate was hanging loosely from it. Yuffie pulled it out and caught the metal frame swiftly before it had a chance to hit the floor and wake up the sleeping Turk. Giving her hand a sly lick, as it had begun to bleed, Yuffie dropped the grate onto the sofa beside her and she lifted herself into the air duct.

With the grate gone, the air flowed freely into the little room. Vincent felt a chill, and he woke up to a soft blast of cool air on his face. He mumbled as he groggily came to his senses, rubbing his blue eyes with the base of his palm. Standing up, he walked over to the light switch and flicked it on, closing his eyes and yawning as he did so. When he opened his eyes, he stared for a moment before muttering with strained control:

"Oh shit."

He paced the room hastily, picking up pieces of the escape job as he discovered them: the discarded shoes, the fallen screws, the removed grate. He examined the grate for a moment when he discovered it, lying innocently on the moved sofa, before throwing down to the floor with great force and shouting:

"Fucking hell!"

He proceeded to kick the grate across the room, where it left a dent in the opposite wall, and he sat down onto the sofa and ran his long, slender fingers through his hair. He let out a defeated sigh.

"Fucking... fucking hell..."

Standing up, he analysed the exposed air duct, judging his build and the space. He was never really a fan of small spaces, but if he didn't follow her through the duct then his boss was going to be mighty pissed with him. He could lose his job... or worse. The Turks weren't exactly a 'everyone makes mistakes' kind of organisation. He feared for his very life. Growling gently, Vincent holstered his gun and stepped onto the settee, and with a quick, easy heave, Vincent was in the duct. He was relatively pleased to find that it wasn't all that small and even more pleased to find that Yuffie had left a trail in the dust that had collected on the floor. Following the freshly swept trail, Vincent didn't realise that she wasn't as far away as he had imagined.

"Gawd!" whispered Yuffie with a grimace; "This place smells like a morgue!"

The air duct did indeed reek, and Yuffie was getting frustrated. She had no idea where she was going and it was cold in the cage of metal that she had found herself in. The air blew through the duct and through her clothes, and she shivered in a curled up ball, clutching her arms to herself and feeling thoroughly pathetic.

"Come on Yuffs," she said to herself, "You're stronger than this. Valentine'll find you if you don't get up."

Willing herself, with a lot of effort, she unfolded her arms and swept her legs under her self and crawled through the tunnel of metal. She coughed and sneezed as the dust unsettled beneath her, though she tried to silence herself, and the foreign matter irritated her eyes. Every where she looked, all she seemed to see was hundreds and hundreds of different tunnels. She probably couldn't find her way back to her room if she wanted to.

Following one of the less dusty routes, Yuffie slid along the metal floor, but stopped when she heard a voice that was familiar to her. She couldn't think where she had heard it, but she knew that voice, and she didn't like it one bit. It was cold and full of scorn, and when she heard her name being said, she knew that she had to go hear what the man was talking about.

There was another voice that Yuffie heard while following the sound, a woman's voice. It sounded bitter and nasal, and when the woman laughed, the noise cut through Yuffie's brain and caused her to physically shiver.

"Kya ha ha ha ha ha!"

Sliding silently over to the grate, Yuffie peeped through and saw the people talking. The male voice had belonged to the man who had sat in the limousine and ordered Vincent around. The woman, however, she had never seen before.

The old man was sitting behind an old mahogany desk with green leather nailed to the top. He was easily in his fifties, and his once blonde hair had turned light grey. He was rather large, bearing the brunt of years and years of sitting behind a desk and ordering people around. He wore a deep green suit, and donned a large grey moustache. He was leaning his head into one of his hands and talking to a woman with the largest breasts that Yuffie had ever had the fortune (misfortune?) of seeing. Her blonde hair was delicately coifed and adorned with clips and beads. Her lip colour matched her crimson, low cut dress, which had a large slit up the sides. The woman evidently used the slit, and her crazy long legs, to her advantage, and she was sitting amorously on the edge of the desk. Her legs were crossed in such a way that the slit in her dress fell off both, and they were exposed to the world in all of their tanned glory, with the embroidered top of a garter flashed into the President's vision. She rubbed one leg with one of her hands, while the other curled a lock of golden hair around a long, slender finger. One of her red stilettos was dangling off her foot idly, directing all attention to her legs.

"Well Scarlet, we do have his daughter."

"That's true. It does give us the upper hand." Scarlet's voice was laced with a nasty edge.

"We'll send Godo the telegram tomorrow."

"But really, Mr. ShinRa, everyone knows that they're hardly a happy family. What if he decides that his daughter's life isn't worth the lives of his people?"

Yuffie's eyes immediately began to sting. Stupid bitch, thought Yuffie, she doesn't know jack shit. We have our problems just like any other family! We may not be perfect, but we're happy!

"If that's the case, then Miss Kisaragi is disposable. We'd have no need for her."

"And then...?"

"Take Wutai by force. Our army is far superior, that's common knowledge. Now all we need are your new weapons, Scarlet."

"The Mako blasters are almost ready. I'm just having Hojo tweak them a little. They were a little heavy for the soldiers to handle."

"Excellent. You're a credit to ShinRa industries."

"Thank you Sir," Scarlet purred.

"You're welcome."

"Speaking of the girl though," began Scarlet as an afterthought, "Where is she now?"

"I had Vincent look after her."


"Vincent Valentine."

So that's his name, Yuffie mused

"Oh, the black haired one. Why him?"

"He's too clever for the wits of a sixteen year old, even if she does come from a long line of Ninja."

"Kya ha ha ha ha ha ha!" The laugh again. Yuffie's skin crawled. "The line ended with Nami Kisaragi! Since Godo's wife died, the 'kingdom' has been reduced to a tourist attraction!"

My mother... Yuffie's fists tightened, and she bit her lips to stop herself crying out.

"Nami was a fool," continued Scarlet with the remnants of the hideous laugh still in her voice. "She should have known that she couldn't match my weapons. Some ninja. She brought Wutai to the ground."

Yuffie opened her mouth to scream something at the licentious woman, and she flew forward to grab the bars of the grate, but a hand clamped around her mouth, and an arm wrapped around her torso and pulled her back. Her head was pulled back beside another's, and as she strained to look to the side, she saw Vincent shake his head at her.

"The Kisaragi clan will bend to the ShinRa's will. They aren't strong enough not to, Sir."

With that, Scarlet hopped off the table and sauntered out of the door. President ShinRa sighed and nodded to himself, before continuing to look at a sheet of paper on his desk. The second he picked up a pen, however, Scarlet's head popped back round the door, and she asked him seductively:

"Are you joining me tonight?"

He stared at her glibly for a moment, as if he was about make some really biting comment, yet, the very next second, he picked up the phone and began to dial.

"I'll just call my wife and tell her that I'm working late."

"Tell her to give little Rufus a big kiss from his favourite auntie Scarlet," mocked the blonde woman with a sneer.

With that, she left the room once more. Yuffie looked up at Vincent's face once more to see that he was wearing a rather comical expression of disgust on his face. Unfortunately, Yuffie wasn't really in the mood for laughing. Vincent was hardly breathing, for fear of being discovered, and as they leaned against the wall of the duct, Yuffie could feel his heartbeat racing on her back as she was pulled tightly towards him. His face, which was directly beside hers, was staring forward through the vent, and a lock of his raven hair brushed against Yuffie's cheek.

"Hello, Darling?" ShinRa said through the telephone receiver, "Yes, I'm sorry Darling, I've got to work late again tonight. I know, I know. I miss you and Rufus too. Mmm. Mm-hmm. Yep, looking forward to it. Sounds delicious. All right, good night Darling. Oh..." the President remembered, and continued, "And give Rufus a big kiss tonight. Love you. Bye."

With that, the president put the phone back onto it's holder, and he stood up. Shuffling a few papers around distractedly, he hastily tidied up his desk, before walking up to a mirror on the side of his office and scrutinising himself. After sprucing up his hair a little, the President grunted with satisfaction before leaving the room and, presumably, going to Scarlet's.

For a moment after the door closed, Vincent stayed statue still but, after a while, he exhaled with relief, before releasing his grip on Yuffie, who swiftly sidled over to the opposite side of the ventilation shaft. She faced Vincent with a vexed look on her face, while he simply stared back. He wasn't pleased with her, and she was pretty pissed with him too.

"Why'd you stop me?"

"You would've gotten yourself killed Miss Kisaragi, and you'll never get home if that happens."

"You heard what they said about my mother!"

"I caught the back end of it, yes."

"Then you know that they deserved it!"

"It was suicide."

"Like you care."

"If you got found flying around the air duct then it wouldn't just be you who got murdered!" hissed Vincent heatedly.

Yuffie just stared at him. She couldn't think of anything to say to that which wouldn't make her sound like a completely spoiled brat. Vincent stared directly and deeply into her eyes, and she soon became unnerved and she looked down at her feet. Suddenly her pulse began to race. What if Vincent told everybody that she had tried to escape? She'd be killed on the spot! I mean, it was his job right, to look after her, he'd have to tell everybody what she had done! Her breathing began to speed up, and before she knew it, before she could calm herself down, she was beginning to hyperventilate with fear.

"Miss Kisaragi?"

She couldn't stop breathing, but it wasn't adequate breath, and she began to feel light headed and dizzy. Taking her aching head in her hands, she squeezed her eyes tightly and felt the need to retch.

"Miss Kisaragi!"

Vincent pushed himself off of the wall of the air duct, and he put one arm around Yuffie's back, and with the other, he held her body upright. He turned her face towards his and, looking into her eyes, the look on his face was no longer one of anger, but one of mild panic. He began to breath deeply, breathing in and out very deliberately, and soon Yuffie caught on, and she began to follow his breathing pattern.

"That's right Miss Kisaragi... just breathe."

She took large, gulping breaths, eyes closed tightly, squeezing Vincent's hand with her own. After a while, she began to breathe normally, and she looked up at Vincent, who seemed to read her like an open book.

"It's all right Miss Kisaragi..." He paused for a second before continuing gently, "I won't tell them that you tried to escape."

Yuffie didn't say a word, but she looked gratefully into his honest face. He coughed slightly nervously, before taking her hand and pulling her through the shaft.

"Come on," he muttered, "Let's get back before anyone notices our absence."

Sitting back on the sofa, a few hours later, Yuffie was cross-legged and staring into space, obviously wondering what she was to do now. She turned her head languidly and regarded the dent in the wall where the now-replaced grate had come in contact with it.

"You got pretty pissed, huh?"

Vincent looked up from the gun that he had taken apart on his lap, and he nodded briefly. With him playing with his weapon, Yuffie could have tried something, but she had already been informed by Vincent that he was as well trained in hand to hand combat as he was in weaponry, so if she did decide to try it, she wouldn't last too long. As he replaced the trigger, he blinked harshly and replied:

"Yes, you could say that. I certainly wasn't very pleased."

Yuffie smiled a little bit. He spun the barrel on his newly constructed gun and snapped it back into place with a swift flick of his wrist. He seemed relatively docile, as trained assassins went. Despite the fact that he had kidnapped her, she was grateful to him for not informing the powers-that-be of her little stunt.

"Sorry about that. But you couldn't just expect me to sit around and wait for my sentence."

"I shouldn't have let my guard down. I figured you'd be easy. I was wrong."

"Well, I am pretty wicked awesome."

"Of course."

Yuffie paused to examine one of her fingernails, a wry little grin over her lips, before asking with a curious tone in her voice:

"So how long has that Scarlet hoebag been the office skank?"

Vincent laughed a little. He shook his elegant head, causing his ebony hair to tousle as he moved, and with a little shrug of his shoulders, he answered:

"Can't really say. Too long for me to remember I imagine."

"So what, is she, like, trying to get higher in her job?"

"Well, Miss Kisaragi, she's Head of her Department already."

"So now she's pretty much just brown-nosing?"

"I should say so."

"Man, if I get outta this joint, there are gonna be a hell of a lotta rumours that I'm gonna get to spread."

"Well, it's not just the President, you know. She's tried it with pretty much all of the Turks too."

"Really? You mean…? You didn't...right?"

"No, I didn't. I had it offered on a plate, but I didn't. I have standards. She refuses to acknowledge me now, of course."

"Oh, the whole 'black haired one', that was her defending her honour."

"I believe so, yes."

There came a knock at the door, and Vincent stood up to answer it, before realising that he too was incarcerated in the room. He sat back down again, folded on leg over the other and called:




"Miss Scarlet wants to see you."


"It's not your job to ask questions."

Vincent sighed and stood up. He walked beside the door and leaned against the frame wearily. Yuffie waggled her eyebrows at Vincent, who ignored her and looked up at the ceiling, distractedly counting the number of ceiling panels there were. In a moment, the door opened swiftly, and Vincent shot a look at Yuffie that clearly read 'You try and make a run for it and you'll be dead before your feet touch the ground'. Yuffie took the hint. As he passed the guard at the doorway, Vincent muttered softly to him:

"Careful with her. She's wily."

"You worry about your job and I'll worry about mine."

"Your funeral."

With that, Vincent left him. The guard entered the room and locked it behind him, muttering with annoyance:

"God damned Turks. They're so bloody up themselves. Just because they get paid more, they think they're so much better than the rest of us..."

The man looked around the room and did a double take. Where was the Wutaian girl? He threw his gun down in panic and looked in each corner of the room, under the couch and under the table, but she didn't seem to be anywhere! While he was looking in stupid places, the gun was picked up from the floor, and Yuffie gave a little cough. The man turned round swiftly to find a gun being pointed in his face, and a young, innocent-looking girl behind it. She shook her head with a grin and commented:

"Vincent was right, you know. You ShinRa guards are dumbasses."

After tidying himself up a little, Vincent rapped his knuckles on the door to Scarlet's office. He wasn't going to enjoy this; he had never had any patience for Scarlet. As far as he was concerned, she was just as Yuffie had described her, 'The office skank'. He was glad that he had never given in to her. He didn't want, you know... diseases.

"Come in."

Vincent did so, and he closed the door behind him. Scarlet motioned towards the seat before her desk, but Vincent didn't sit in it. He just folded his arms and stared at her with a flat expression on his handsome face. Scarlet remembered in an instant why she wanted him.

"Please, Vincent. We can have manners can't we?"

For a moment, Vincent continued simply to stare, but he then sat down in front of her. Scarlet stood up and approached him, one hand tracing the edge of the table as she walked round it. She sat on the corner of the table, merely a foot from Vincent, with the same pose as she had used the night before.

"Vincent. Vincent, Vincent, Vincent."


Sliding off of the desk, Scarlet stood behind Vincent and put her hands on both of Vincent's slender shoulders. As she moved her mouth towards his ear, her hands slipped down to rub his strong chest. She purred into his ears with her rubious mouth, and Vincent's eyes widened slightly when he heard what she had to say.

"I know you were there last night."

After a short moment of silence, in which Vincent collected his thoughts, he tightened his fists and replied coldly:

"What of it?"

"You let the girl escape. She was there too."

"I got her back."

"She's sixteen, Vincent. She shouldn't have been able to escape in the first place."

"So you'll tell President ShinRa that I messed up. Is that all you wanted to tell me?"

"Well," began Scarlet, "I don't have to tell him."

She brought one hand up to Vincent's face, and she traced his jawline softly. She breathed heavily beside one of his ears and she suggested huskily:

"I'm sure we could... come to some sort of agreement...?"

With this, Vincent's patience snapped, and he grabbed Scarlet's hands and pushed them from his body. He stood and walked over to the other side of the room, where he knew her hands could not roam. He perched on the edge of a small table and crossed his arms. Scarlet simply laughed at this and she remarked:

"Come now Vincent. Be reasonable."

"We've been here more than once already Scarlet."

"I love it when you say my name. Your voice..."

"Well, you're already aware of the fact that I can't stand it when you say mine."

"I'm sure we can change that..."

"Quite the contrary."

Scarlet blushed and she stamped her foot childishly. She didn't normally have to work this hard to get men to fall at her feet, but Vincent was annoyingly resilient to her charms. Her fists were clenched at her side, and she vented angrily at the raven-haired man.

"Well I might just tell President ShinRa then!"

"No you won't."

"Excuse me?"

"As you said, Miss Kisaragi and I witnessed your meeting with the President yesterday. Before, all I had to protect myself with was rumours. Now I have solid fact. You tell the President of my indiscretion yesterday, and Mrs ShinRa and little Rufus ShinRa will have heard of your affair before you've even left his office."

Scarlet's mouth was nearly touching the floor as she stared at him agog and, when she composed herself, she spluttered helplessly at him. Vincent raised an eyebrow at her from across the room. He had a feeling that she wouldn't try to seduce him again for a little while.

"Throw me the keys."

The guard shook his head dumbly at the young Princess. Yuffie rolled her eyes and flailed the arm that wasn't holding the long rifle.

"Why not? What've you gotta lose?" Growing impatient, Yuffie squeezed the trigger threateningly, and the guard quaked. "The keys? Please?"

He immediately threw them to her, and she caught them smoothly, before placing them in one of the pockets in her shorts. She regarded the poor man for a moment and then asked casually:

"Hey, uh, what do you have in that little pack of yours anyway?"

The guard took the little backpack off of his back. All of the ShinRa guards had the pack as regulation, for it contained most of the things that they would need in the event of... well, a situation such as this. When he pulled out a length of rope, Yuffie's eyes gleamed.

"Ok, I have a great idea, Vincent is going to love this one! It's going to prove him so right!" She gave a little laugh, "Ok, strip down to you underwear. I don't think we need to see junior."

The guard just looked at Yuffie with a pitiful look of confusion on his face. Yuffie raised her eyebrows questioningly, before poking him in the shoulder with the barrel of the gun. He suddenly began to take of his uniform, and he stripped down as far as his boxer shorts, taking off his helmet first and descrying a young man with a head of thick blonde hair confine into a ponytail.

"Good boy. Now what else've you go in here?"

She had a little root around the bag, and squealed when she found a little metal contraption. Pulling them out for the guard to see, she swished a pair of handcuffs before his face and chortled.

"Right, put these on."

The guard did so, his entire body blushing a deep shade of crimson. The keys to the handcuffs were on the ream of keys in Yuffie's pockets. After carefully placing the rifle on the floor, Yuffie extended the length of rope and wrapped it about the guard. After securing the rope tightly, Yuffie picked up the discarded clothes and gave them the once over, before slipping off her shorts and the legwarmers and trying the trousers on for size.

"Hey quit perving!" She warned the guard laughingly, "I know I'm super hot and all but really!"

She gave a giggle. She was feeling hopeful again, and that put her in high spirits. Pulling at the trousers, Yuffie shrugged and commented blithely:

They're a little big, but they'll have to do I guess."

She then slipped off her green top and replaced it with the white T-shirt and padded black jacket that the uniform consisted of. In any other circumstance, Yuffie would have felt quite shy undressing before a man she didn't know, but she knew that she would never see the guard again, and her mood was too good for her to care. She pulled the helmet onto her head, ensuring that she pulled down the visor, giving it a little wipe with the sleeve of the jacket to make sure that she could see through it properly. She then slipped the long bandoleer over her head and adjusted the straps, before slipping off her own shoes and putting on the thick black boots. Picking up the knapsack, she placed her shoes, clothes and the keys into the main pocket and slipped it onto her back. After picking up the rifle, she looked at the poor, helpless guard who was now tied up on the floor, laughed and left the room.

"You are free to go, I suppose, Valentine."

"Thank you Scarlet."

Vincent wasted no time in escaping her office. He shook his head and exhaled sharply, before walking down the corridor back to the Wutaian Princess. She was easier to handle than Scarlet was, that was for sure. He was probably the only man to have ever managed to reject Scarlet more than four times without being sacked or murdered. He figured that she just had a soft spot for him.

As he approached the door through which Yuffie was being held, a short, skinny guard walked past him, but he paid no mind to this, as it was of little importance. However, when he turned the door of the confines and walked in, he was taken aback for a second. The guard looked at Vincent silently, biting his lip awkwardly, trying his best to cover his underwear with his hands, but not succeeding.

"What the...?"

The guard just stammered slightly, not conveying a real sentence due to both embarrassment and fear of the fact that he let Yuffie escape being found out. Vincent frowned at the guard and demanded angrily:

"I..." Vincent coughed and looked away. "I thought I told you to watch her!"

"She... She disappeared, and then... she got my gun!"

"Pathetic excuse. I did warn you."

"I just thought you were being a jackass!"


"Because most of you Turks are jackasses!"

"Well now I have to go clean up your mess, so who's the real jackass here?"

The guard didn't respond, and so Vincent just shook his head a scowled in his general direction. Scanning the room, he pouted slightly, looking rather put out. Putting his hand on his hip, he asked him calmly:

"Where are your clothes?"

"Sh-she took them."

"So your telling me that, not only did you allow her to escape, you allowed her leave right through the front door?"

"Y-y-uh... yeah."

Vincent rubbed the lower half of his face wearily and gritted his teeth, before, suddenly, a thought came to him. He turned and looked out of the door hastily, before looking back and saying, more to himself than to the guard:

"The tiny guard... she walked straight past me! Damn it!"

With that he turned on his heel and left the little room. The guard watched him go, before realising that he was still tied up, and the door had been left ajar. The man called out a little, but Vincent just continued walking down the hall, either not hearing or simply ignoring the man's voice. Slumping back down to the ground, the man gave a little growl and exclaimed:

"Bloody Turks!"

Oh gawd, oh gawd, oh gawd, thought Yuffie as she strolled nonchalantly down the hall. A few people nodded or saluted at her, and she returned the gesture, though her heart was pounding in her breast. About a minute ago, she had just walked straight past Vincent, and she had nearly screamed. She thought herself lucky that he hadn't found anything suspicious about her, because he'd gotten pretty pissed the first time she'd tried to escape.

"Excuse me? Hey!"

Yuffie froze. She turned around to see the owner of the voice, who was a tall, be-helmeted guard. His visor on his helmet was up, giving him a clear vista of her and allowing him to scrutinise her freely. The eyes in his dark face moved over her with scrutiny, his head moving a little bit when a thick, dark brown dreadlock fell down from the confines of his helmet. From his style and colour, Yuffie assumed that he was probably from either Cosmo Canyon or Mideel, but considering the views on ShinRa from the people of Cosmo Canyon, Mideel was almost certainly more likely. Frowning, he took her by the shoulder and stared at her with a stony expression on his face.

"Hey you..."

Oh crap, thought Yuffie, This is it. I'm a goner. He's gonna shoot me, I know it! She tried to control her nerves and attempted to gain power over her breath, which was beginning to become deep and suspicious. The man looked into her helmet and gave it a little tap with his gloved hand.

"You got your pass man?"

"My... pass?"

"Sure. You haven't heard? You need a pass to get out now. You are heading out, right?"

"Oh... y-yeah!"

"Thought so, you were headed in that direction."

"Yeah, I mean, I haven't yet got my pass, there was a mix up with the... uh..."


"Yeah, the code. Man, my card wouldn't work if they hadn't realised there was a mistake. Thank God ShinRa are so meticulous about their technology!"

"It's nice to see some one so dedicated to the company. That's too bad about your card though."

"No kidding, I completely forgot about the cards! How am I gonna get out now?"

Yuffie slumped her shoulders and tried her best to look as miserable and put out as she could. The man looked indecisive, but she could see that his resolve was beginning to waver. He sighed and bent down to her level, before shuffling about in his trouser pocket and bringing out his wallet.

"Listen, you can borrow my card. But don't tell no one, we aren't supposed to lend 'em to people."

"Oh, wow. I mean, thank you so much! That's just... aw, that's awesome."

"No problem kid. Now get goin'."

"Thanks a lot!"

Yuffie listened to the man and she got a move on, just in case he suddenly had a spark of divine intervention and realised that she wasn't a real guard. She examined the card that the nice sentinel had given her, holding up to her visor as she walked along the plain white corridors. It was blue in colour and, to Yuffie's delight, had no identification picture on it. On the back it had a small bar code and a signature, of which Yuffie could only make out the name 'Kiros', but other than that, no identification.

Following the signs painted on the wall, Yuffie neared the exit. The corridor became colder as she travelled up it, and she could feel the kiss of a cool breeze on her neck. There was no one around this area, and the corridor was silent save for the sound of her light footsteps. With her heart thumping in her chest, she turned a corner and saw a large, white, metal door. It was at the top of a set of ten or so stone stairs and the light seeping through the tiny cracks around the door seemed to effervesce. Yuffie stopped before them, her breath coming out in short, tear filled whimpers, and she bit her lip to stop herself crying with joy. She was going to be free. The fresh, cool air felt like heaven on her ochre skin, and she could smell grass and blossom. She could damned near feel the sunlight on her face already, even through the visor. Readying the card in her hand, she took a few small steps towards the small staircase, ready to slot the card into the machine at the top of the stairs. With a big grin on her face, she lifted her foot to begin transcending the stairs when-

"Miss Kisaragi!"

Vincent ran around the corner, merely a few metres behind her, and he ran to her and grabbed her by the forearms. Yuffie gasped and struggled, and so he grabbed her biceps and her shook her as he emphasised each word that he shouted at her. She shook her head and struggled harder.

"No, Vincent!"

"If anyone finds out that those two guards let you escape, their lives will be forfeit! Do you understand what I'm saying, Miss Kisaragi? They will die for your selfish actions!"

Vincent's slender hands tightened around Yuffie's arms, squeezing them to her sides forcibly as he shook her fiercely. Tears were beginning to form in Yuffie's eyes and, even though she closed them to try to stop them from falling, they seeped out of the corners and ran down to settle on her bottom lip.

"Get off me! You're hurting!"

"You have no fucking idea!"

"They work for the ShinRa! They deserve what they get!"

Vincent let go of her suddenly, and she stumbled backwards into the wall. She looked at the Turk from under her fringe, and she found that all of the compassion seemed to have drained from his face, leaving a hollow, cold expression in its stead. It frightened her.


"Shut up. Just shut your God damned mouth."

Yuffie did. Vincent leant forward and grabbed Yuffie's wrist tightly, so much so that it hurt, but Yuffie didn't cry out, as she knew that he wouldn't stand for it. He pulled her along the long white corridors in silence, and the journey seemed to last for aeons in Yuffie's eyes. She lifted her free hand and pulled down the visor so that he wouldn't see the tears streaming freely down her face.

As the two of them walked past the kind guard who had given Yuffie the pass, Vincent stopped for a moment to wrench the card from Yuffie's hand. Silently, he handed it back to the sentry, whose face seemed paled and expression seemed frightened. He obviously realised what would happen if anyone found out about Yuffie's little escapade, and so Vincent leaned over and put his mouth beside the other man's ear and whispered something which put the colour back into his cheeks and the smile back on his face.

"Thank you sir," he breathed gratefully, with a huge smile on his face, "You're too kind."

Vincent nodded at the man, who saluted him back. With that, Vincent pulled Yuffie along down the hall again, walking fast with long legs and wide, fast strides. Yuffie was considerably shorter than him, and so the result was her being damn near dragged along back to the confines. People who were standing around the corridor stopped and watched, but Vincent maintained the stony look on his face and just kept walking.

When they eventually reached the room, Vincent flung open the door and pushed Yuffie inside. The disgraced guard was still lying on the floor, evidently unable to undo the rope or the handcuffs with so little mobility. Vincent slammed the door closed and ordered Yuffie with a monotonous voice:

"Take off the uniform and give it back to the guard."

Yuffie blushed a deep colour of crimson. She wriggled the knapsack off of her back and put it on the floor, under the intentions of taking her own clothes out, but Vincent took the bag from her grasp and rooted around in it for the keys. Yuffie began to protest:

"Hey, Vincent... my..."

"Just give him back his uniform."

Yuffie stood still, a hurt look on her face, but Vincent wasn't buying it. He dropped the backpack and stalked beside her, before saying dangerously through clenched teeth.

"Now, Miss Kisaragi."

Yuffie's face creased into an expression of deep melancholy, her eyes welling up, but she began to unbutton the jacket and take it off. Vincent didn't acknowledge her, and instead diverted his attentions into trying to find the keys. As Yuffie was pulling the white T-shirt over her head, Vincent located the keys, and he crouched down to undo the handcuffs around the guard's wrists. With nimble fingers, Vincent soon managed to undo Yuffie's knot-work and the guard stood up, rubbing his wrists vigorously and eyeing Yuffie suspiciously. Somehow, once she had taken off the uniform, she didn't look so intimidating. Standing miserably in her underwear, shivering, trying her best not to burst out crying, she looked pretty pathetic. The guard hastened to put his uniform back on, and Vincent, having taken out Yuffie's belongings, handed him his knapsack. The man looked a little worried, and so Vincent said two simple words to him:

"Don't worry."

Those two words, coming from the stern Turk, had a huge effect on the guard. He smiled gratefully at Vincent and shook his hand saying profusely:

"Thank you, sir, thank you very much, I'm ever so grateful, thank you, sir, thanks..."

"You're welcome."

With one of his arms, Vincent directed the guard out of the door, still being thanked, and when the man was on the other side of it, he closed it gently and turned around. A click could be heard when the guard locked the door, but other than that, the room was silent. Yuffie had her arms in an awkward position, trying her best to be modest and her face was wrought with many emotions, ranging from embarrassment, to anger, to inconsolable despondence. Her tear-streamed face was a pitiable sight, her bottom lip jutting out miserably and her eyes red and watery. Vincent stared at her coldly, and she stood statue still to his scrutiny.

"What? What do you want with me Vincent?"

"You have no idea what you could have done, do you?"

Yuffie opened her mouth to send back a biting response, but she realised that he was right. She didn't understand why he had reacted so desperately, or why the guards had been so grateful to Vincent, or what he meant by 'don't worry'. She had no clue, and she was so angry with Vincent for realising that. Vincent raised a sarcastic eyebrow at her before answering for her.

"No, you don't."

"Well tell me then! Stop being so damned cryptic! Tell me what's happening here!"

"If President ShinRa finds out that they made this mistake, they'll be killed! They'd be killed for your selfish, ignorant actions! You're so stupid! Stupid and immature!" Vincent didn't mean to go on, but his anger was building up inside of him as he spoke. "It'd be far easier for us if they had just killed you! "

Vincent's words were harsh, and Yuffie felt them in her heart as he said them and they caused her to flinch. The tears that were welling up began to fall down her cheeks once more. She'd been doing a lot of crying lately. It was her only way of really feeling what was happening. Her tears turned into sobs, and she collapsed down onto the ground and wept, crying out with loud, throaty moans of despair.

Vincent's cold, unfeeling manner wavered slightly and he looked down at his feet with a hint of guilt in his eyes. Yuffie's clothes were still gripped in his hands and, as he clenched his fists, he felt the soft material rub against his skin. He walked up beside her and touched her shoulder, but she immediately shied away from him, as if his very touch burned her.

"Miss Kisaragi..."

"Stay away from me! Obviously it'd be better for you that way!"

Vincent awkwardly extended the hand in which he held her clothes, but she just ignored him and turned away from him.

"Don't you dare start to pity me."

Vincent gently set her clothes down beside her and remained standing about a foot away from her. He gave a sigh and moved carefully nearer, before sitting down on the space of floor between her and the door. He once more put his hand on her shoulder and began to console her:

"Miss Kisaragi, I..."

"Get off of me!"

Spinning around on the floor, Yuffie turned to face him, eyes ablaze with anger. Vincent retracted his hand, and he leaned back slightly, trying to give her the space she desired so much. He tried to calm her down, but she was bubbling with ferocity, and she sprang at him, grabbing his wrists with her little hands and knocking him onto his back. He tried to push her away, but she was scrabbling away at him like a thing possessed. She managed to reach into his jacket pockets, searching for a weapon, assuming her would carry something other than a firearm, and she found a pen, which she brandished in the air like a blade.

"Miss Kisaragi...!"

Yuffie continued to push and fight at him, trying her best to hit him but failing against his strong arms. Finally, she managed to reach his face, and the nib of the outstretched pen stabbed at Vincent's left eye viciously. Overwhelmed by pain, Vincent pushed Yuffie off of him, and in a moment of passion, he raised his hand and backhanded her hard across the face, with all of the strength that he could muster. She gave a little yelp as she was thrown to the ground by the force of his slap and her hand immediately flew to her cheek, but Vincent was more concerned with the copious amounts of blood that seemed to be dripping from his left eye. The burgundy liquid fell to the floor with a thick, almost stringy consistency, and all he could see was red. Wiping at his eye with his fingers, he appeared to be scooping handfuls and handfuls of blood out of it, and Vincent was beginning to panic. Yuffie, still nursing her deeply bruised cheek, crawled over to the Turk and whimpered meekly:


Breathing heavily, after examining the blood cupped within his hands, Vincent stood upright on his knees and held his eye with his left hand. Blood had dripped down the left side of his face, and the contrast of the red on white was stark. Yuffie reached out a hand to touch his cheek, but pulled away when she felt the warm, sticky sensation of blood laced on her fingertips. She shuffled closer to him, standing on her knees in front of him, and she looked up to see his face. Looking down at her, he murmured gently:

"I'm sorry."

She bit her lip to stop herself crying. He reached out and touched her grey and purple cheek, and she flinched. It really smarted. He didn't take his hand away, however, and she allowed him to caress her bruised face with softness and tenderness. She took a breath and placed her hand over Vincent's where he was holding the blood that was flowing from his eyes. His pain was nearly tangible to her, but his face was calm and his manner was gentle. Yuffie wiped the blood away from his cheek softly. It left a dark red stain, but she tried her best to clean up his beautiful face. She shook her head and muttered to him:

"I'm sorry Vincent... I'm so sorry."

"Don't worry."

Again, those two words. Somehow, she began to understand why it meant so much to people when he said it. It was because, when he said it, he was sincere. Her heart felt lifted, and she felt like she could smile, but she didn't, because she knew that he was in too much pain to do the same.

She straightened her self and leaned her head upward to kiss Vincent's hand where it laid over his eye. He didn't move. She inclined her head a little downwards and kissed his blood-smeared cheek. He didn't move. Finally, she moved her head down and placed her mouth on his. He allowed her to melt into the kiss, which he reciprocated, her bloodied hands running through his thick black hair. He removed his hand from his eyes, which caused the blood to run back down his cheek, but neither of them paid any attention to this. Vincent ran his hand along Yuffie's back, and she didn't care that she had his blood staining her flawless skin. He pulled her closer towards him, and her arms sank down from his hair to rest across his shoulders. Caressing the small of her back, Vincent pulled her ever closer into his protective arms, and she wrapped her arms about his neck in a passionate embrace. Her hands slid down, and she pulled his navy jacket down his shoulder. He released his grip around her torso for a moment to allow her to fling it off, before moving his kisses to her slender, tanned neck. Her hands roamed to find his collar button, but Vincent took her hands in his and pulled away.

"Miss Kisaragi..."


"I... We shouldn't..."

Vincent sighed and looked down to the side, avoiding eye contact. His velvet voice sounded awkward, and his eyes were searching for a safe place to settle. A drop of blood dripped onto Yuffie's hand where she had his collar tightly gripped and looked at it with wide eyes. Her hands were both covered in blood already, and Vincent's shirt was smeared with the liquid. His face, his neck, his hands, his face. He was covered in blood, blood that she had caused to spill, and he didn't seem to care. All he cared about was preserving her innocence. She let go of his shirt collar, leaving dark red finger stains on the crisp white material. Vincent began to stand up, reaching for his jacket, but Yuffie took his hand in hers and pulled him back down to his knees. She cupped the back of his head in her hands and turned his bleeding eye towards her. She wiped it with her thumb, but new blood sprung forth from the wound, and so she gently pulled his head downward towards hers and she kissed his closed, bleeding eye. A smearing of blood spattered Yuffie's lips, and she looked wounded. Releasing him, she replaced her hands on Vincent's tainted shirt and began unbuttoning it, slowly exposing a strong, porcelain chest. His complexion wasn't sickly, despite his pale skin, and he had a strong, solid abdomen. Yuffie ran her hands over it as she slid his shirt off of his body, but Vincent, almost shyly, looked to the floor, his face unreadable. Yuffie took his hands in hers and she put them around her back as she lay her head on Vincent's rising and falling chest. His heartbeat was slow and steady, and Yuffie closed her eyes and listened to it, the gentle, low sound. Vincent lifted his head and rested it on top of Yuffie's, closing his eyes and caressing her gently. His fingers touched the clasp of her bra, and he played with it for a second before allowing it to release. Yuffie smiled gently, eyes closed, head resting still on his heart, until she pushed herself away and slipped off the bra and pressed herself against Vincent's chest, kissing his neck softly, leaving a bloody imprint of her lips. Her hands traced down his strong body and reached his belt. She tugged at the leather and pulled it through the loops, before unbuttoning his trousers...


'You've got your ball, You've got your chain,
Tied to me tight, tie me up again,
Who's got their claws in you my friend?
Into your heart I'll beat again...'

'Sweet like candy to my soul,
Sweet you rock and sweet you roll,
Lost for you, I'm so lost for you...'

'Oh, you come crash into me,
And I come into you...

I come into you...
In a boys dream...
In a boys dream...'

'Touch your lips just so I know,
In your eyes, love, it glows so,
I'm bare boned and crazy for you,

When you come crash into me, baby,
And I come into you...

In a boys dream...

In a boys dream...'

'Oh, if I've gone overboard,
Then I'm begging you to forgive me,
In my haste, when I'm holding you so girl
Close to me…'

'Oh and you come crash into me, baby,
And I come into you..'.

'Hike up your skirt a little more,
And show the world to me...

Hike up your skirt a little more,
And show your world to me...
In a boys dream...

In a boys dream...'

'Oh I watch you there,
Through the window and I stare at you,
You wear nothing but you wear it so well,
Tied up and twisted,
The way I'd like to be,
For you, for me, come crash into me, baby...'

'Come crash into me...

Crash into me...
Crash into me...
Crash into me...'

'You know, I'm the king of the castle,
You're the dirty rascal, crash into me,
Please crash into me, baby...'

'Oh, no, no, no...
Yes, I see the waves,
Come and crash into me,
See the waves come and crash into me,
Crash into me.'

Dave Matthews Band – Crash Into Me

Vincent and Yuffie lay together on the sofa, a soft green blanket strewn across their mingling bodies. Vincent's bare arms were clasped tightly around Yuffie's body. Her bloody hands were entangled with his and their legs were a splayed mess of limbs, intertwining and curling around one another protectively. Yuffie stirred and tightened her grip on Vincent's hands, but neither of them awoke.

A clicking noise resonated about the room, but even then neither of them were disturbed from their comfortable slumber. The door handle turned, and the door opened a little to allow Scarlet to stride in. Her hands were on her hips, and a string of words were ready on her lips, but the sentence died on her tongue as she stopped and regarded the room. Her icy blue eyes narrowed for a moment on the tangled heap lying on the sofa, but soon widened when she realised what the heap was. Vincent's head was nestled firmly onto the armrest beside Yuffie's chocolate brown hair, and their eyes were closed in an undisturbed sleep. Scarlet poked at the pile of clothes on the floor with one pointed stiletto, before shaking her head in disbelief. Her mouth curled into an ugly sneer, and she looked back up to the pair, softly attempting to advance upon them. She was shocked by the flashes of red on their contrasting bodies, and she stepped a little closer to garner a more detailed look. However, Vincent began to stir, and so she leapt back. Unsure of what to do for a moment, she froze in the middle of the room, before retreating through the door.

Vincent opened his eyes to see the door finish closing through his groggy eyes, and he heard the click of the door as it locked. He closed his eyes again for a second, before his brain registered what the closing and locking door meant, and he sat bolt upright and looked down at Yuffie. She mumbled slightly and turned over, but she remained fast asleep. Vincent ran a bloodied hand through his hair in shaky panic, before lifting himself up over Yuffie and onto the floor. He recovered his clothes and began putting them on, not sure what to do in a situation such as this. His hands were shaking, and his breathing was fast and shallow, and half way through pulling his trousers on, he collapsed to his knees with his head in his trembling hands.

"Fuck... Oh God..."

Closing his eyes and clenching his teeth, Vincent willed himself to continue dressing and after a moment he succeeding in numbly pulling his trousers to his hips and pulling on his socks. He zipped and buckled his trouser clasp and pulled on his black boots before standing straight and breathing deeply. There, he thought to himself, now only the top half to go. He pawed at his eye for a second. The copious amounts of blood had dried his left eye shut, and it was sore to the touch. I'll have to wash off the blood, he added as an afterthought, Probably go see the doctor in the infirmary too. He picked up his belt from the floor and began to feed it through the belt loops at the top of his trousers.

Yuffie stretched and rolled over on the sofa. She woke up with a start, however, when she realised that there was no one beside her, and she sat up hastily, pulling the blanket around herself tightly. She looked to the centre of the room where Vincent was securing his belt around his thin waist. His hands were visibly shaking, and his face was one of anguish.


He stopped dressing in surprise and he turned swiftly towards her. She gasped when she saw the dark stain of blood down his cheek, but she didn't have time to comment on it, as Vincent walked towards the sofa and crouched down beside her, taking her hands in his.

"Miss Kisaragi..."

"Vincent, what are you doing?"

"I woke up just five minutes ago. Some one came in and saw us."

"What? Who?"

"I don't know, I didn't see. But I saw the door close. Someone was in here."

"What does that mean? For us, I mean."

"I..." Vincent shook his head gently before looking back up at her and saying heatedly, angry with himself for his ignorance. "I don't know! I don't... I can't believe I was so fucking stupid."

Yuffie frowned for moment and pulled her hands from Vincent's. He looked at her quizzically, and she raised and eyebrow at him and commented angrily:

"Stupid? You were... stupid?"

"Miss Kisaragi, I didn't mean it like that."

"And seriously Vincent! I just lost my vi-... I mean, we just...! I think we're a little bit past Miss Kisaragi!"

"Yu-Yuffie, then! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it like it sounded, you must realise that!"

"Well I don't! I..." she paused for a second before gesturing at her bruised cheek. It had turned an ugly shade of sickly purple. "I realise this! And... A-and..." She motioned towards the blanket lying over her naked body. "And I realise this! And last of all..."

Yuffie stretched out the palm of her hand to his view. It was still sticky with Vincent's blood, and she trembled as she extended it to his scrutiny. She took a deep breath, before stating with a facade of serenity:

"Last of all, Mr Valentine, I realise this."

Vincent was silent for a moment as he eyed Yuffie's hand. The blood wasn't exclusive to her palm either. It was smeared all over her body, over her neck, her face, her shoulders in dark, angry swipes of red. Trails of dried tears broke up the smudges of red on her cheeks, and the thick red liquid had dried in little clumps in her chestnut hair. He sighed gently. She was beautiful and ugly at the same time. He leaned back and sat on the floor, before drawing his knees up to his chin and hugging his legs. He shook his head and looked earnestly into her bright green eyes.

"I've done something terrible..."

Yuffie just stared at him, her face unreadable. After a few moments, she pouted in an attempt to look nonchalant and she looked down at the material of the sofa, and at the wall, and at her feet, anywhere to avoid his honest gaze.

"Yeah... yeah, you have."

"I'm so sorry."

"Listen, I just wanna sleep. Go... wash your eye or something. Just let me sleep."

With that, Yuffie pulled the blanket tightly about her and rolled over to face the back of the sofa. She closed her eyes tightly and refused to allow herself to cry again. She didn't care. He was just a guy. In fact, he was the enemy, her kidnapper! More than that, it was a ploy. Yeah, a ploy. She had gone with him to try and escape while he was asleep, but it hadn't quite gone to plan, that was it. Yeah, thought Yuffie, it was nothing. She repeated that mantra, willing herself to try and believe it, but the soft, gentle sound of his heartbeat entered her mind, as if trying to remind her of what had just happened.

Vincent stayed by the sofa for a minute, watching her still form. After a while, her breathing became slower and shallower, and so he figured that she was asleep. He stood up and towered over her for a moment before he walked to the centre of the room and grabbed his jacket and shirt. He toyed with the idea of putting the shirt on, but after scrutinising it for a moment, deemed it beyond repair, and threw it into the waste paper basket beside the table. He put the jacket on over his naked upper body, and he buttoned it loosely, before walking over to the door and tapping it quietly with his knuckles. The door opened a tiny bit, and the guard on the other side peeped through. To Vincent's relief, it was the disgraced guard from yesterday, and so the Turk hoped that he wouldn't ask too many questions. He walked out of the door and allowed the guard to lock it behind him. However, just as Vincent was beginning to walk away, the guard called out in shock:

"Bloody hell Sir!"


"Your eye Sir! It must've bled gallons, it's all over you!"

"Yes, I had noticed," replied Vincent, somewhat testily.

"Was there a struggle?"

"Yes," answered Vincent vaguely, "It... didn't last long though."

"And the Princess?"

"She's fine."

"How did she...?"

"She found a pen."

"You'd best go bathe that eye, before it gets infected. A pen indeed! Youngsters these days, growing more and more vicious as the generations go on, I tell you! Personally, I blame the parents…"

"I'm afraid I'll have to interrupt you. I cannot open my left eye, and I would really like to go wash it."

"Oh, very sorry Sir. You go clean up."

"Thank you."

Vincent left the man grumbling beside the door and stalked up the corridor. He passed only a handful of guards, as the building was relatively empty at that time. Vincent didn't know what time it was exactly, so he could only hazard a guess that it was about eight o clock in the morning or ten o clock in the evening. Each guard he passed regarded him with the same shocked expression on their face. Vincent was growing both annoyed and slightly embarrassed by the reception, but he just kept on walking. Eventually, he located the bathrooms. They were dark inside, for the janitor had probably switched of all of the lights of the little rooms, so Vincent just slipped off his jacket and pawed around for one of the little lights which hung above the mirrors. When the small, dim light flooded around the mirror, Vincent was taken aback. He looked a horror. With the rest of the room in darkness, and the light only glowing about his face, he looked truly frightening. It reminded him of when he was a child, and he and his friends would tell ghost stories with the torches up to their faces to make them look scary.

No wonder people were staring, he said to himself, You look like a monster.

He scowled at his reflection, but soon stopped when he realised that that only made matters worse. His pale skin seemed ethereal in the harsh light, and against the dark, dried red, he looked almost ghostly, like a living, breathing, hurting corpse. The blood on his face had dried so dark and thick that it almost seemed black, but the blood smeared over the rest of him was a garish red, smudged over his porcelain body. His left eye was completely closed, while the other seemed out of place without it's partner. The blood down his cheek seemed like the make up of an unhappy harlequin, crying blood, his eye melting into the liquid like he himself was turning to water. His hair was clogged with the liquid, drying in clumps around the tips of his normally handsome locks, and his long, elegant hands were tainted.

Turning the tap, Vincent started with those. The water ran red as he stuck them beneath the tap, palms facing the ceiling, and once his hands were clean, he cupped water in them and splashed it on his neck, rubbing vigorously as he tried to remove the stains that kept reminding him of what he'd done. Once his slender neck was his normal pale skin tone, he fingered his cheek, where the blood had swept down his sharp cheekbone. His left eye was held shut by the dried blood, and he rubbed it gently, cringing as he touched the gash where the blood had streamed from. He sighed and began to fill up the basin with water, before taking a handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and dabbing delicately at the sore wound. When the basin had filled up, Vincent took a sharp breath, before dunking his head under the cold water and keeping it there for a moment, before pulling his head out and gasping. His entire head was soaking, his dark hair falling in front of his eyes in sopping locks, dripping red, and he blinked his long eye lashes to stop the water getting into his eyes. With the handkerchief, he began to scrub none too delicately at the blood ridden eye. It was painful, but after a while, he managed to open his left eye. The skin around it was scrubbed red raw, and it still stung to the touch.

However, he finally felt clean.

He loomed towards the mirror and examined his eye, holding the lids wide open with his thumb and fore-finger. He had a cut which ran through his left eye, a small scratch which no doubt would soon heal, but he found that when he examined the iris, the swirling pool of blue, there was a small blemish running through it. He had a feeling that that wound would remain with him. He felt no more pain, except that the area around the eye was sore, and so he gave his head an erratic shake before he switched off the mirror light and left the room.

Yuffie lay on the sofa for a while after Vincent left the room, grabbing the blanket tightly around herself. She was shivering, but she wasn't cold, and her eyes were closed tightly as she tried to sleep. She wanted to cry, but she felt numb, and all she could recognise was a dull, empty pain in the pit of her stomach.

She sighed and sat up, curling the fleece blanket around her still naked body. Stepping meekly onto the floor, she walked over to get her clothes. She knelt down to grab them, but when her hands touched them she sunk down to the floor and held them against her body. She was silent, and she could hear her slow, thumping heartbeat in her head. After slipping on her underwear, she pulled on the rest of her top and shorts, not bothering with her ninja decoration, but found that most of the blood was still visible on her arms and body. She touched her face and flinched with the stinging pain; she hurt all over, inside and out. She sat back down onto the sofa, pulled the green blanket to her face. It smelt like him, cold and fresh, like a cool evening breeze through a window of a warm home. With the screech of a truly distraught woman, she balled the blanket tightly in her hands and flung it across the room. Her sob reverberated around the room, and the silence surrounding her made her feel even more lonely. Her sobs turned into desperate, self pitying moans, and as she clenched her fists, the nails dug deeply into her tanned skin. She leaned down to hug her knees tightly, and she slipped softly off of the sofa and lay in a ball on the floor, legs pulled close to her chest, shivering slightly as she wept.


"That's better sir. All scrubbed up, eh?"

"Quite," replied Vincent dryly.

The guard shifted his gun beside his shoulder awkwardly, before leaning confidentially in towards Vincent and looking up at him from below raised eyebrows.

"The Wutaian girl's been making quite a fuss in there Sir."

At the mention of the young princess of Wutai, Vincent shifted uncomfortably and he averted his eyes guiltily. Looking down at the floor and clearing his throat, he tried to reply as nonchalantly as he could:

"Oh? Well, she's obviously distressed. I suppose it's understandable."

"Well, Miss Scarlet didn't look all that happy this evening neither."

"What do you mean?"

"You know, when she came in, about a half hour ago."

Vincent's blood ran cold. His eyes grew frantically wide, and he looked back up at the guard and grabbed him by the forearms, pushing him up against the wall.

"Half an hour ago?" he demanded voice laced with panic, "Scarlet? Di-did she say anything? Wh- what did she say?"

"She… she didn't Sir! She just stormed away! Please Sir-!"

Vincent released his grip on the guard's arms and he fell away from him with a hunted look on his face. The sentry looked bewildered, and his breathing was stunted with fright. Vincent was simply shaking his head as if he couldn't fathom the situation. Without another word, the Turk strode purposefully away from him and burst through the door, slamming it hard behind him.

"Miss Kisaragi? Miss-!"

He stopped and looked down at the floor, where Yuffie was curled up on the floor. She was no longer crying, but staring blankly forward, having worn herself out, eyes red and expression empty. Vincent rushed to her side, slipping down to his knees beside her and grabbing her shoulders, pulling her upright. She blinked at him, her mouth slightly ajar.

"Miss Kisaragi? Are you all right?"

"… 'm fine," replied Yuffie hoarsely.

Vincent sighed with relief, unconsciously stroking the back of her head with his fingers, before he remembered himself and brushed strands of blood crusted hair from her eyes and looked deep into her and told her softly:

"We're in deep trouble, Princess."

Despite the serious tone with which Vincent said it, and the grave nature of his proclamation, Yuffie smiled slightly to herself when he called her 'Princess'. Most of the people who called her 'Princess' were slimy bastards who only wanted something from the title, despite the fact that she would rather see them fornicate with a sword than give them any aid. However, the way he said it, with a gentleness that couldn't be rivalled, made her feel a lurch within her heart. She soon remembered herself however, and she cocked an eyebrow questioningly.

"What trouble?"

"The person, this morning, remember?"

"Sure," replied Yuffie shortly, "I'm not stupid."

"Miss Kisaragi, you know I didn't mean it like that."

"Just get on with it Vincent."


Yuffie frowned in confusion, raising her eyebrows at him inquiringly. Vincent shook his head and kicked himself backwards to sit cross-legged in front of her. His hand found hers, and he explained grimly:

"It was her, Miss Kisaragi, this morning. She came in and saw us."

Yuffie's face creased into a worried scowl, and she opened her mouth to respond, but couldn't find the words. She stood up softly, one hand clasped around her other wrist, and she bit her lip for want of anything more helpful to do.

"Vincent, what the crap are we gonna do?" she asked quietly.

"…I don't know," Vincent replied lamely with a soft shake of his head.

"What about you? What will you do?"

Vincent raised his head languidly to look into her face, scanning her quickly for any sign of sarcasm or bitterness. His eyebrow was raised in surprise, and his head cocked to the side questioningly.

"You care?"

There was no malevolence in his voice, only the tone of a genuine question. Yuffie inclined her head sharply towards him, but she could see that there was nothing but honesty showing on his face. She sighed and sat in front of him, her knees pulled to her chest.

"Oh, Vincent. Of course I fucking care."

Vincent bowed his head with a sigh, looking at his hands awkwardly. He blinked slowly, his eyes lingering shut for just a moment longer than normal, ahead of looking back up to her and whispering sincerely:

"I'm so sorry. You deserve better than a monster like me."

"Vincent, you aren't a monster."

"If you only knew me a little better, you'd understand. I've done things so much worse than this. Things I can hardly bear to remember. Please, trust me when I say that you've had a narrow escape."

"But Vincent…!" Yuffie insisted, "I don't want to escape you!"

Vincent was taken by surprise, and he raised his finely shaped eyebrows as he looked at her. Her eyes were cast downwards, her mouth open slightly as if she was searching for a way to suck her revelation back in to it and stop him from hearing it. He shook his head and sighed before telling her gently:

"You've only known me for a matter of, what, three days? I'm not all that you make me out to be."

"Three days can change everything." She sighed and persisted, "Vincent, you're a Turk. A hired assassin. You're meant to be unfeeling, callous killers, right?"


"But you aren't! You aren't a monster! Otherwise… I wouldn't feel…!"

She voice was beginning to betray her and she looked down to the floor beside her feet. Her emerald eyes were beginning to fill with boiling tears, and she didn't want him to see. However, she felt a finger underneath her chin, tilting her head upwards. Her eyes met his deep blue ones, and he stroked her cheek softly with his thumb, gentle over her angry bruise. With her heart beating in her head, Yuffie smiled at him faintly and placed her hand over his, her little fingers curling tightly around his. Gently and slowly, Vincent's hand travelled around to cup the back of her head, and he pulled her towards him and planted a kiss on her mouth, his arm wrapping around her back and pulling her further into his embrace. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, one hand running through his thick, still damp hair, but in a second she pulled herself back and breathed worriedly:

"Vincent, what are we going to do?"

He stood up and stretched a hand out towards Yuffie, who accepted it and allowed him to pull her up. He put both of his hands on her shoulders and sighed, bending down to lean his forehead against hers, closing his eyes and making a tired groaning noise.

"I think I'm going to have to pay Scarlet a visit."

"Not on your own you aren't!" Yuffie informed him fiercely.

"Yuffie," began Vincent, but the girl in question interrupted him.

"You called me Yuffie!" she laughed.

"So I did."

"I'm sorry, please, go on."

"Thank you," smiled Vincent, but soon his face turned grave once more, "Yuffie, I can't allow you to go with me to see Scarlet."

"Why not?"

"It might not be a good idea. I just don't like it."

"Well, Vincent, to be honest, I like the idea of you going to see her even less, but I know you have to. However, if you have to, then so do I."

Yuffie had placed her hands on her hips, and she was glaring stubbornly at him from underneath her fringe. However, despite her stern mien, there was a hint of a wicked grin on her mouth, and it grew as she could see that Vincent was on the verge of conceding.

"Come on Vincent. Safety in numbers."

"Oh Yuffie… You have no idea what we're dealing with."

"Is that a yes?"

"You let me do all the talking, and you stay behind me."

"Deal. Vincent, I got you into this mess, and I'm going to help you get out of it, Okay?"

"I think-"


"All right, all right. I was just going to say that I think you need a wash."

"You saying I smell?"

"No," shrugged Vincent, "I'm saying you're still covered in blood, and I'm sure that's unhygienic. Come on."

"You all right Sir? Seemed like something shook you up pretty bad earlier."

Vincent shook his head gently and apologised for startling the man. He pulled Yuffie through the door, one hand wrapped tightly around her wrist and he jerked her viciously through the threshold. The guard glared at her, and she just grinned sheepishly at him.

"I wouldn't smile Miss Kisaragi," growled Vincent, "you're not in a position to do so. You're only lucky I'm letting you have a shower."

"Sorry Sir," said Yuffie sadly, biting back her grin.

"You will be." Vincent looked back to the guard and nodded politely.

With that, Vincent pulled Yuffie down the corridor, fighting the urge to smile at the Wutaian princess. There were even less people meandering around the hall than before, and he leaned down slightly and inconspicuously to the girl and muttered:

"You're having a ball aren't you," he stated.

"You bet."

She began to smile, but the passed a stern, bulky soldier, and so she frowned and began to struggle. Vincent loudly snarled a few choice words as they walked by him, but one the turned the corner, they stopped and the Turk loosened his grip. Yuffie stepped a little closer to Vincent affectionately, and she giggled a little and said:

"This is so sly Vincent!"

"Don't I know it."

His hand around her wrist slipped down into her hand, and he guided her around another corner until he found the locker room. Pushing the swing door open, he slipped inside and groped around for the light switch. When he finally found it, he discovered a set of about four switches and, flicking the first one, the far light turned on and emitted a dim light to the rest of the room. Deigning that to be all that was necessary, Vincent began walking through the rows of tall metal lockers, running one finger across the doors as he scanned the numbers.

"137," he finally said, "my locker,"

He fished around his jacket pocket, producing all manner of objects before he finally located the little silver key. While he replaced everything back into his jacket, he told Yuffie to open his locker.

"Sure you don't want to check there's nothing in there that you'd rather I didn't see? Give it a quick once over? Apparently my friend Kami found a stash of naughty magazines is her ex's locker. It wouldn't have bothered her so much if it wasn't gay oriented, but whatever."

Vincent just gave her a flat look with one eyebrow raised in comical impatience, and so Yuffie stopped mincing her words and she got on with the locker. It opened with a creak, and Yuffie rooted around in it before she realised that she had no idea what he wanted her to get.

"My shower bag should be in there somewhere."

"I can't see it."

Vincent brushed past her and moved a few things, before finding it underneath a pair of long black shorts, which Yuffie held up and openly scrutinised.

"They're just my basketball shorts, Yuffie," Vincent said defensively, with a wry smile on his face.

"I just can't imagine you in shorts, that's all."

"Well, I don't wear them unless I'm playing basketball or in the gym."

"Are you any good at basketball?"

"Naturally," answered Vincent smoothly, "Now come on. The showers are just up here. You'll have to use the men's, I'm not sure where the women's one is, sorry."

"Don't worry about it. Just so long as there aren't any dudes in there."

Vincent led her across the plastic tiled floor to a wooden, slatted door at the end of the room. He handed her the shower stuff and she opened the zip and looked inside for a second, before looking up at the Turk and asking awkwardly:

"Vincent, could you check there's no one in there? Please?"

With a sigh, Vincent nodded and smiled a little at her. He pushed the door open and stepped inside, turning right immediately and walking down the little corridor that ensured that the showers were obscured from sight. The showers were all in little cubicles, separated by semi-walls so that the top third of you was descried, while the rest was obscured. He scanned the room and called through to her:

"Yuffie, there's no one in here."

The door opened meekly, and Yuffie slipped in and stood next to Vincent. She glanced around the room, one of her hands lying on one of the half walls.

"Wow, I've never been in a guy's shower room.

"It's not really all it cracked up to be," commented Vincent dryly before turning to leave, "I'll be waiting outside. I'll make sure no one comes in, all right?"

"Well you know," began Yuffie a little shyly, catching his hand before he could leave, "you only cleaned off your face. You've still got blood all over yourself. You could probably do with a shower."

"Yes but… oh," realised Vincent.

With her hand in his, Yuffie walked backwards, leading him towards one of the shower cubicles. He traced the curve of her face with his hand before he leaned down to kiss her firmly on the mouth. She began undoing his loosely buttoned jacket, exposing his still blood streaked body, and turned to catch it on the hook, before allowing him to slip off her top and unclasp her underwear. However, he hesitated and began:

"We probably shouldn't-"

"I know. I just wanna shower."

He nodded and kicked off his boots while Yuffie slid out of her shorts, leaving her briefs on, but when she turned to go into the cubicle, Vincent lifted a bemused eyebrow in her direction. She laughed and informed him:

"Well, this is the closest I'll get to doing laundry, right?"

Vincent closed his eyes for a second as he laughed softly, before unbuckling his belt and slipping out of his black trousers, leaving them lying askew on the tiled floor. Yuffie looked at him, still in his boxer shorts, and laughed:

"Doing your washing?"

"I never could get the hang of washing machines."

Hitting the shower button with a balled fist, Yuffie stepped backwards and let the warm water run over her, closing her eyes and looking up to the shower head, letting it flow over her bloodied face. She glanced up at Vincent, who had stepped into the cubicle and stood in front of her, looking down into her green eyes from his height. She grinned meekly and asked:

"Going to do my hair then?"

She turned around, exposing her back to him, and ran a hand through her soft, soaking hair, glancing over her shoulder at the Turk. He stepped closer to her, stroking his fingers gently through her waterfall of brunette hair. The coppery undertones gleamed under the dim light of the shower room and they seemed to seep into the very water of the shower. With shampoo in his hands, Vincent gingerly collected her hair into one long lock and ran the suds through it, massaging it into her roots. Yuffie entwined her fingers with his as she washed the shampoo out of her hair, turning around her run her hands over his blood stained chest.

"Vincent…?" breathed Yuffie huskily.

"Yes, Yuffie?"

"Can I… plait your hair?"

Vincent laughed, shaking the shampoo from his own hair, the thick black turning into liquid midnight underneath the water. Yuffie reached up and curled a thick lock around her finger, brushing the side of his face with the back of her hand, laughing gently before stating with a sigh:

"You know, you're prettier than I am."

Vincent looked down at her with a wry gleam in his eye, before shaking his head and leaning over to kiss her on the forehead. With his kiss travelling to her neck, he murmured gently into her ear:

"Never." He stood back up and continued, "Come on. You've got blood all over you."

He squeezed a thick stream of purple liquid from a plastic bottle and, lathering it in his hands, Vincent began to rub it into her shoulders, circular motions on her skin with his long fingers. She shivered under his gentle touch, leaning her head back to rest on his chest. His hands travelled down to her stomach, embracing her tenderly to wash the blood from her tan skin. She tangled her hands in his and let him continue, and he began to kiss her neck to her shoulders, pulling her tightly towards himself. His motions grew more insistent, massaging her body with such a sensual touch that the Princess tingled all over and turned suddenly to kiss him hard on his mouth, thrusting her arms around his neck. With his arms around the small of her back, he pulled her closer to him and she held herself tightly to him. Her legs moved against the wet silken material of his boxers, and she lifted one leg teasingly, before tightening it around his waist and lifting the other. One of his hands suspended her around his hips, but the other moved furiously up and down her back. Yuffie's fingers ran franticly through Vincent's hair, while his mouth fought against hers with as much passion as ferocity. Suddenly she began to laugh, and she pulled her mouth from his. He smiled and asked curiously:

"What are you laughing about?"

"Vincent, I've been kidnapped, incarcerated and beaten, and I'm still having the wildest romance of my life. You Turks just can't be trusted!"

Vincent set her down gently, smiling inconspicuously. He ran his fingers through her hair and kissed her forehead, before cupping her head in his hands, leaning down, looking close into her eyes and declaring firmly:

"It's their own fault for making me guard you. That's my story and I'm sticking to it." He then released her head to continue with a stretch of his arms, "Now come on. Let's go dry off."

Once again, Yuffie hit the shower button, and the water dried up with a creak. Taking her hand and covering her with his jacket, Vincent led her back into the locker room, where he produced a pair of cranberry coloured towels, one of which he wrapped around himself, and the other which he enfolded around Yuffie.

"So, what's the plan Vincent?"

Stopping halfway through scrubbing the towel through his sopping hair, Vincent looked up through his mess of quasi-dry hair with one fine ebony eyebrow cocked questioningly and remarked:

"The plan? What plan?"

"The one where we confront Scarlet."

"That's so sweet. You thought I had a plan."

"You know, considering the situation, you're very calm," commented Yuffie as she and Vincent walked through the dimly lit halls towards Scarlet's office.

"I don't think it's quite hit me yet," replied Vincent, before stating casually, "You've been very calm throughout this whole thing."

"Well, I've had you to protect me."

"Yuffie, I kidnapped you."

"Well, when you put it like that, it obviously- No way, get offa me you rat bastard!"

The sentry walking past the pair of them raised his eyebrows at Vincent, who just shook his head in reply. When the guard was out of earshot, Yuffie burst into laughter, while the Turk asked sardonically:

"Rat bastard?"

Yuffie just grinned at him, her hand tightening around his. They were getting closer, ever closer to Scarlet's office, and Vincent's heart was beginning to beat loud and hard in his head. He glanced down at Yuffie, the blithe skip in her step and the happy, serene look on her face. 'She just doesn't understand'he thought to himself, 'I don't know what to do. Please, Yuffie. Please, don't rely on me.'

"Gil for them?"


"Gil for your thoughts?"

He looked away for a second, unconsciously stroking her hand with his thumb. Gil for his thoughts? She was looking expectantly up into his pale, elegant face, waiting for an answer.

"I… I was just thinking that we're going to be fine."

Yuffie smiled with a sigh, content with his reply. They walked resolutely through the dimly lit corridors with a slow sense of urgency, but it seemed to Vincent that every stride they took became slower and shorter.

"It's just around here right Vincent?"

But still, it never stopped being too close. The Turk tugged distractedly at the crisp white new shirt which he had unearthed from the confines of his locker, trying to flex the starchy material. He had ensured that his uniform was immaculate while Yuffie had run a comb through his hair, and he had put his sunglasses on to try to obscure his sore eye. He looked like a cold, calculating Turk. More than that, he looked a professional. He stopped dead still suddenly, and Yuffie looked at him and asked worriedly:

"What's wrong Vincent?"

Staring at the door, eyes unblinking, Vincent pointed mutely at the small sigh on the door, a black strip of plastic with embossed white letters. 'Scarlet Donovan – Head of Weapons Development'. Yuffie exhaled slowly and deliberately, clenching and unclenching her hands a few times with nervous distraction.

"We're here?"

"We're here."

Biting the side of her bottom lip, Yuffie bounced up and down on her knees as if she was deciding whether or not to make a run for it. She hadn't really thought about it before but, now that she was here, she was scared. She looked at the door on the opposite side to Scarlet's and commented uneasily:

"Can't we go see..." She squinted and read, " 'Reeve Nakamura – Head of Urban Development' instead? He sounds nicer."

"Yuffie, I can handle this on my own if you don't want to. Honestly, I don't mind. In fact, I reckon I'd prefer it."

"No, Vincent, I'll be fine. I don't want you to do this on your own."

For a moment, nothing passed between them but an exchanged look. Vincent was scrutinising Yuffie with an eyebrow cocked worriedly, and she was looking back at him with a gentle stubbornness, not borne from a desire to annoy him, but from the desire to be by his side. Finally, Vincent looked away and raised his hand to the door, ready to knock.

"All right Yuffie. If you're sure I can't stop you."

"Time to face the music, Vincent."

Vincent bowed his head for a second as he rapped his knuckles against the door. Stepping back from the threshold, they waited a moment, breath bated, until they heard movement beyond the closed door: A shuffling of papers at first, but then the squeaking wheels of a desk chair and lastly the muffled clicking of heels on a carpet. The handle turned furiously and the door opened with a vicious sweep, revealing Scarlet's delicately painted sneer. She looked up at Vincent, her scowl growing in size every moment, but when she saw Yuffie hovering inconspicuously in the back, trying for anything to blend into the wall, she snaked a hand out suddenly and grabbed Vincent's tie, pulling his face down towards hers fiercely.

"Get in my fucking office Valentine," she growled dangerously.

Vincent, who had been trying to pull away, stumbled back slightly as she released his black tie and turned on her heel to return into her office. Vincent looked back at Yuffie, who had slightly blanched, before following her through. The Wutaian fidgeted for a split second outside the door, before making a noise which was half a grunt and half a squeak and pursuing Vincent. She closed the door gently, but it still shut with a loud 'clunk' which seemed to cut through the air in the room, and it diverted the attentions of both Vincent and Scarlet upon her. The princess cleared her throat awkwardly and commented:

"Uh… oops?"

"Yes," replied Scarlet bitingly, "I think that sums up your situation pretty well. Sit down Vincent."

He did, reaching over to pull the chair further away from her desk mistrustfully. He then sat down awkwardly in it, precariously balanced at a slight at an angle and looking somewhat as if he was attending a job interview where he was being assessed by Hitler, Al Capone and Satan. Scarlet, making clicking noises with her nails as she watched him intently, seemed perfectly comfortable. However, behind her icy blue eyes, a calculating mind was obvious and almost visible. Those eyes squinted slightly into a glare as Yuffie stepped closer to Vincent's chair and rested her arms on the back, standing protectively behind the man that seemed to cold to others, and so warm to the Wutaian princess. However, Scarlet soon remembered her façade of indifference, and her scowl smoothed out into the cool glare which she was wearing prior.

"Vincent. God dammit Vincent."

"… Is that all?"

"No that's not all! You were such a promising Turk! You could have made commander in a year or so! What the hell was so special about that skinny little bitch?"

Yuffie made a loud, indignant noise, but Vincent, after taking off his sunglasses, coolly cut her short and cocked his head to the side to scoff disbelievingly:

"This isn't about my role as a Turk at all, is it?"

"Well, for fuck's sake Vincent! She wasn't even born in the same decade as you! You wouldn't even look at me for about seven years, and she waltzes in, our prisoner, and in three days she's got you wrapped around her little finger! It's like you can't even see why she's doing this!"

Vincent stood up sharply, his chair sliding back a little bit, taking Yuffie off guard. He towered over Scarlet, who was sitting behind her desk, and his presence was an intimidating affair. Scarlet, however, seemed nothing but amused by this reaction, and so she continued:

"You don't like that little gem, do you Vincent? The fact that she might just be trying to look for a way out never occurred to you?"

"Vincent!" Yuffie cried, eyes full of tears, "Vincent, don't listen to her!"

"She realised what a useless, trusting Turk she had been left with, and the opportunity sprung to her."

"She's lying! I wouldn't! Vincent, please!"

"She's taking you for such a ride Vincent. Such a little actress too, she deserves an award. Even now, look at her! It's pathetic."

Vincent, standing in the middle of the two women, had his hand on his gun. His head was splitting with a dull, thick ache, and the back of his throat was on fire. Swallowing dryly, his eyes wandered from Scarlet to Yuffie. A repulsive sneer adorned the ShinRa worker's face, her eyes glowing with anger, while Yuffie's face seemed to have been drained of colour, the vibrancy in her eyes dulled by the sheer volume and ferocity of Scarlet's attack. The older woman's voice suddenly changed though, and instead of the unseemly bite, her voice contained a sickly sweet tone.

"Vincent, I can help you. We'll deal with this together, okay? You won't get into trouble."

"Shut up!" screamed Yuffie, "Just shut up!"

With that, Yuffie leapt towards Vincent, her hand stretching out towards his. In a split second, the world was transformed into a land of slow motion and sepia. Everything she saw happened in frames and every second was worth five. Vincent turned his head sharply to see Yuffie run towards him, and the princess could see every single strand of raven hair splay outwards as it caught the air. In one moment, his eyes caught the gleam of the light, and the deep blue was changed into a sea of sky and electricity. His mouth moved, but she couldn't hear what he said. His bangs cast a shadow upon his defined cheekbones, and for a second she was captivated by the contrast of black on white, the starkness of his being.




So caught up in the beauty of those last few moments with Vincent, Yuffie failed to notice the shimmer of cold metal appear in Scarlet's hand. When the shot was fired, Vincent's eyes were oceans, skies and storms. Then she was hit in the stomach, flung back by the force of the bullet. If she only could've watched Vincent for a moment more, she would have seen the look of horror on his face, his blue eyes mix with the reflection of red, his porcelain skin spatter with the explosion of blood from the wound. But she blinked. She missed the beauty of his terror and his despair. Holding her hands to her stomach, she fell to her knees, eyes closed.


Another shot was fired. Bang. Bang. Bang. Three more, quick in succession. Yuffie felt no more pain, however, and so she willed herself to open her eyes. Slowly, her lids parted, and she saw Scarlet's blood spattered body convulse against the wall of her office, ruby red smeared over the cream coloured paint. Slowly, the body slid down to the floor, a trail of blood following her to the carpet.





Her eyes were open wide in horror, her mouth moving silently. It was evident that she couldn't breathe, and she could hardly move, but in a second, in one last impulse of energy, she lifted her shooting arm and blindly fired her last bullet, before her arm dropped to the ground and her head lolled to the side.

"…Vincent?" Yuffie managed to croak.

The Turk was standing tall above her, his face unreadable, his arm still outstretched in the shooting position, wisps of smoke unfurling from the barrel of his pistol. For a second, he didn't move, but then his arm slowly moved down to his side, and his shaking hand dropped the gun to the floor with a heavy thump. When he registered Yuffie's voice, he fell down beside her silently. His right breastbone was covered in blood, and the slightest glimpse of bone was showing through the wound. He lifted his arm heavily, as if it weighed a ton, and he touched Yuffie's bullet wound tenderly, his face blank and empty.

"Vincent…?" repeated Yuffie, tears flowing freely from her eyes, "Vincent, I'm scared…"


Vincent's hands shook as he touched her, and his expressionless face, creased into an angry, upset, distraught frown, his hands balling into fists. His eyes began to seep bitter tears, and he screamed in distress, no words but an angry roar, before, disregarding his bullet wound, he stood up and kicked the chair across the room, upturning the table with a lurch of strength. He fell back down beside the Princess, before taking her by the shoulders and pulling her back into his arms, holding her close to him, She was sobbing openly, her breaths coming in short, rapid outbursts. He repeated her name in her ear, his voice throaty and full of tears, and he rocked her back and forth in his arms.

"Vincent…! I- I don't wanna die…!"

"You won't. I won't fucking let you…!"

With that, he scooped her into his arms, resting her head on his shoulder and holding her tightly against his body. He kicked fallen chair out of his path and approached the door with fast, panic driven strides. Fiddling with the door handle, Vincent's hands were slippery with blood and the knob kept sliding through his hands. Finally, he grew so aggravated that he just stood back and aimed a hard, fast kick at the door. It flew open with a large cracking noise and splinters of wood fluttered into the air. He ran through the entry with quick, light haste, running on the balls of his feet, and without the slightest waste of a moment, Vincent ran up the corridor and headed for the infirmary.

Sooner or later, it all returns to blood.

'We all ferment,

A face can change and soul stay young,

We're all connected,

So take a journey with someone,

Learn to be as one…

'Still living, sinking, falling,


But I'm breathing you in,

Breathing you in…'



'We all ferment,

A day can change from days so young,

You feel rejected,

So hold your head up to the sun,

Learn to be as one…'

'Still living, sinking, falling,

Still living, drifting,

I'm breathing you in,

Breathing you in…'

'I'm living, sinking, feeling, twisting,

I'm living…

But I'm breathing you in,

Breathing you in…'




'Still living, sinking, falling twisting,

Still Living,

I'm breathing you in,

Breathing you in…'

'Still living, sinking, falling, twisting,

We're living,

I'm breathing you in,

Breathing you in…

I'm breathing you in,

Breathing you in…

Feeder – Oxygen

"Oh, Vincent," tutted Dr. Kadowaki with a sigh, "You've got yourself into quite the doozy here, haven't you, eh?"

Dr. Kadowaki, the infirmary doctor, was a bustling woman of about sixty years, who generally mothered Vincent like an old hen whenever he came to see her. She had taken a strong, maternal liking to him, no matter how disdained he would get with her clucking and fussing. When he had arrived at her office, she set herself up to give him a lecture about what he had done, biting back horror at Scarlet's murder, but when she saw the hurt look in his eyes, and the fragility with which he held the blood soaked body in his arms, she bade him put Yuffie down on the table, and she pulled him into a warm, motherly embrace, shushing and rocking him in her arms.

"She's going to die, Asako. She's going to die, and it's my – sh! – fault."

He had inhaled sharply when Dr. Kadowaki tightened the gauze around his breastbone, and he sent her sidelong look which she raised her eyebrows at obstinately. He rotated his arm testily, and smiled emptily at the Doctor in thanks.

"Vincent, you take the blame for too many things. It's not healthy, and it's not fair on you."

He stood up and reached for his shirt but, when he saw the blood streaked into it, he changed his mind and chose to fold his arms across his chest and lean against the mint green walls of the infirmary. He stared through the glass window into the room where Yuffie lay bleeding to death in a hospital bed, a hollow look about his eyes. The office was dark, with only a table light switched on, as Dr Kadowaki had planned on packing up for the night when Vincent had arrived. The Turk was wreathed in shadows, and Asako shook her head inconspicuously, before softly demanding of him:

"Explain this to me Vincent. I don't understand."

"… I don't even know if I can. I don't understand it myself, to be honest. And yet…"


"And yet, I've never felt something so real."

Asako stood beside Vincent and placed a hand on his arm comfortingly. He tore his eyes away from Yuffie's broken body for a moment to glance at the doctor. All she saw in his eyes was grief.

"Asako," he whispered, voice full of unshed tears, "Asako, I don't know what to do. I feel so… I feel so lost."

"Poor boy…" sighed Asako, rubbing his forearm comfortingly, "No one expects you to know. But that young lady in there, she's relying on you now. You just have to try and do the right thing. I think you should go in and talk to her."

Nodding mutely, Vincent exhaled slowly and ran a hand through his thick black hair, before approaching the door of Yuffie's room and quietly opening it. Her head turned towards him slowly, and when she saw Dr. Kadowaki hovering behind him, her mouth moved in a whisper. Vincent closed his eyes as he strained to decipher what she said, and when he worked it out, he laughed softly and nodded his head, brushing Yuffie's fringe from her face absently.

"What did she say Vincent?"

"She said that you look a lot like her Grandmother, and act a lot like her too."

Asako smiled at Yuffie, before glancing up at Vincent, who was gazing at Yuffie's beautiful, blood spattered, pain ridden face. She decided that it was time to leave them alone together. Silently, she backed out of the door and closed it, watching still through the window. Vincent pulled a chair beside Yuffie's bed, and he sat down quietly on it, leaning his elbows on the side of the divan. She turned her head to look into his eyes, and, seeing the fear and worry in them, she asked softly:

"Vincent? Am I going to die?"

"No, Yuffie. I won't let that happen…"

"It hurts so much," she whispered, tears running down her cheeks.

"I know it does, but you're going to be fine. I'll take care of you."

"You promise?"

"I promise. I won't let you die."


"Yes, Yuffie?"

"I… I wanna see my dad. Just in case… Please Vincent?"

Vincent opened his mouth to reply, but no words came out of his mouth. Finally, he just nodded dumbly, his hand finding Yuffie's and squeezing it tightly. She beckoned him a little closer, and he bent over to put his ear beside her mouth, and she whispered to him:

"Vincent… Will you perform my p-…prayer?"

Vincent's eyes opened wide, and he turned his face to look into her beseeching green irises. She looked more sincere than he had yet seen her, and a wayward tear was trailing down her tan cheek. He shook his head lightly and mumbled anxiously:

"Yuffie… I don't think I can. I-I wouldn't know how."

"I'll tell you how… Vincent, I want it to be you… If you don't, I might… I might not get a chance… P-Promised Land…"

"Yuffie, you're going to be fine," Vincent insisted expressively.

" 'Leviathan'," Yuffie choked out with effort, " 'God of the land and water of Wutai'…"

"Leviathan," Vincent repeated, clenching Yuffie's hand tightly, "God of the land and water of Wutai."

"… 'Take this daughter and blood of your kin…' "

"…And deliver her from her pain or else accept her into the lands of calm seas and the fruitful Promised Land…"

"…Lead her to her kin and forefathers, and let her revel in the halls of the glory of her people…"

"…Lead her soul to the land promised by her blood…"

"…And forever house her in your terra…"

"… Lord of sea and earth, Leviathan, Amen."

Vincent looked back down into Yuffie's grateful face, and she smiled at him, before shuddering viciously as she was racked with coughing. Each cough projected a splatter of blood onto the white sheets, and Vincent stood up sharply and cried in panic:

"Asako! Asako!"

"It's all right Vincent, I've got her."

Asako had seen Yuffie through the window, and was fast ready with the treatment. She wheeled in a breathing monitor and placed the plastic mask over the Princess' face, before flicking a switch and squeezing an oxygen bag periodically, trying to maintain her breathing. She looked up at Vincent's alarmed face, and she smiled at him and said:

"She'll be all right for now Vincent."


"Yes, Love?"

"I think I have to leave."

"What? Why?"

"I can't stay around here. Not when they find Scarlet."

"You can't just leave her. You can't run away from her, Vincent. She needs you here, with her."

"I'm not running away from her. I need to find her father. I need to get him here, to get his daughter."

Asako shook her head with a sigh, stroking a damp cloth over Yuffie's forehead. Trickles of water ran down the Princess' cheeks, mingling with salty tears, and the water glittered like diamonds upon her skin. The mask was still clamped to her face, and her eyes were closed tightly, stricken by the effort of breathing clearly. Her chest rose and fell slowly and softly with, heavy, deliberate breaths and the blood sodden sheets stuck to every curve of her body. Vincent was sure he had never seen her look so beautiful, and it broke his heart.

"Vincent, I'm not going to pretend that I think it's a good idea. However, if you think that you have to do it, I'm not going to try and stop you."

Vincent walked over to the chair that Asako was sitting in and, avoiding the wires and tubes connected to the oxygen bag in her hand, he knelt down and planted a kiss on her soft, wrinkled face. She patted his cheek with her hand and smiled at him lovingly.

"You're such a charmer. But Vincent," she began to warn him, "If you don't come back for her, I'm going to give you a beating you'll never forget."

"I know Asako. Thank you."

He leaned over Yuffie's body and fixed a kiss on her forehead, stroking her hair away with his thumb. She stirred and opened her eyes groggily, and looked into his sapphire eyes worriedly. She absently brushed the mask away from her mouth and she reached her hand up to touch Vincent's face softly.

"It's all right Yuffie. I'll be back before you know it."

He leaned down and kissed her soundly and swiftly on the lips, before sweeping back upright and replacing the breathing mask over her mouth. She closed her eyes once more and, after giving the Princess one last glance, he nodded to Asako and promised:

"I'll be back. Take care of her for me Asako."

"I will," she assured him, before commenting as he left, "But be fast Vincent. I don't know how long she's got."

"I will Asako."

"Oh, and Vincent? There should be a spare shirt in the cabinet over there. You'll catch your death without one. Silly boy."

Vincent strode fast down the hall. He could hear his heart beating loud and fast in his head, and he felt like everyone that walked past him was going to whip out their gun and shoot him on the spot. He had replaced his glasses to his eyes, and was walking with his face turned to the ground, trying to avoid catching eyes with anyone. He knew his only chance was to get to the car park and steal someone's car, adding grand theft auto to his ever growing list of crimes to ShinRa.

"Uh, Sir?"

A voice behind him called out shakily, and Vincent stopped dead but never turned around. The guard repeated himself and Vincent could hear his slow, careful footsteps approach him. The guard cocked his gun, and the metallic clicking reached Vincent's ears.

"Sir, I'm g-going to have to ask you to raise your hands."

Vincent did, his handgun hanging idly on his finger. He put his hands behind his head, dropping the gun to the floor, and he could hear the guard flick his walkie-talkie and call for back-up.

"Sir, turn around slowly. Don't make any sudden movements."

Vincent stayed still, not moving an inch, and the somewhat subdued guard repeated his demand with an edge of alarm in his voice. When Vincent still didn't listen, the guard approached him and shakily reached out an arm to grab Vincent's wrist, when suddenly, he spun around and ducked down rapidly, stretching out a leg and kicking the guard in the shin. The sentry fell forward to his knees, and without a second thought, Vincent stood back up and punched him in the centre of his back, flinging him down to the floor and knocking him out in an instant. He made to run down the corridor, but he could hear footsteps from both directions, and shouts from other sentries. A group of four turned around the corner, stopping sharply and raising their guns to the lone Turk.

"Sir! Put up your hands Sir!"

Vincent glowered at them, his hands clenched at his sides. He began walking towards them, and the sentries stuttered and called out to him, but he didn't stop.

"Get out of my fucking way," he growled.

With that, one of them let out a ream of bullets, but Vincent, with lightning quick reactions, swept out of the way. He grabbed the guard's arm and pushed it up to the ceiling, using the perplexed man as a type of shield against the other three men. He contracted his hand around the man's wrist, and the splintering and crushing of bones was audible over the man's screams of pain. With a sharp thrust, Vincent flung the man over his shoulder, dislocating the guard's shoulder and knocking down one of the other men. The other two men fumbled with their guns, but Vincent grabbed the two barrels and pulled them across each other, pulling them out of the guards' hands. They made similar exclamations of surprise and fear, particularly when Vincent grabbed the collar of one of the guards and yanked him into a head butt, swivelling his leg to reach around the other man's and drop him hard onto the floor. The man who had the guard thrown at him had made his way up from the floor and charged at Vincent with a bayonet drawn from his belt. Vincent ducked under the swipe of the blade, quickly meandering around the fighting man's flailing form, and he grasped the arm in which the knife was held, bending it round about his back until he heard a cracking noise. The guard howled in pain as he fell to his knees, his arm falling limp at his side. With three men taken care of, Vincent spun around to face the last man, who had produced an electric rod, much like a combat cattle prod, from his belt, and the blue electricity sparked from the top in fizzles and blasts. The man rushed at the renegade Turk with it outstretched, and Vincent attempted to dodge it, but the man caught him off guard, and it caught Vincent's bad arm, the shocking pain seeming to run through his limb and travel to the gun wound on his breastbone. He fell to the floor, convulsions sweeping through his body, his eyes growing dim and his mind muddled. However, just as the guard was beginning to look pleased with himself, Vincent managed to swipe the bayonet from where it lay beside the unconscious body of the other sentinel, and he stabbed it through the guard's ankle, pushing furiously through the flesh and bone.

As the last guard fell to the floor in sheer agony, Vincent managed to stand up, shaking off the initial shock of the electricity. Unfortunately, the fight hadn't given him time to play with. He could hear the footsteps at the other end of the corridor grow ever closer, and before he knew it, they were around the corner and hot on his heels. He knew that he hadn't the time to engage them all in combat, and so he made a dash for it, aware that he was less than ten metres in front of the ShinRa sentinels. He could hear their shouts and the clatter of guns behind him, but all he could think about was not fulfilling his promise to Yuffie.

"Sir! Sir, in here!"

Vincent stopped running with a skid, and saw the sigh painted in grey on the wall, 'Prisoner Cell 7'. He looked to the guard, and in a split second he realised that he was outside the cell in which he and Yuffie had been stationed. The guard had opened the door and was beckoning him inside, and so Vincent slipped inside and stood behind the door, breathing heavily, slumped heavily against the metal. He heard the footsteps run past the closed door, and he listened to the sound of muffled voices, speaking in a quick, frantic manner.

"Soldier! Did a tall, black haired Turk walk past here?"

"No," replied the guard, and Vincent could hear the unease in his voice, "I don't remember that. Um, what did he do?"

"Miss Scarlet has been murdered, and eyewitnesses reported that he was seen running from the scene of the crime."

"Well, if I see him, I'll radio you immediately."

"Thank you soldier," the sentry said, before calling to the rest of them, "Move out!"

The noise of footsteps was once again audible, but moving the other way, and Vincent picked up on this, sighing with relief when he realised that they were now going the opposite way to the exit. The door opened slightly, and the guard, without turning his head away from the corridor, whispered to Vincent:

"You helped me Sir, and despite whatever reasons you had for killing Scarlet, I'm still gonna help you. I've tipped them off to go the other way. Here," the guard paused and reached into his pocket, before producing a key on a key ring, which depicted a fluffy black cat with a red cape and a little crown, and handing it to him, before continuing, "take my ride. Press the button and it'll bleep in the car park."

The guard pushed the key into Vincent's hand, and the Turk just looked at him mutely, gratitude in his eyes. Seeing that, the guard grinned and said merrily:

"I guess I just learnt that not all Turks are jackasses."

"Thank you. I'm forever indebted."

"No Sir. An eye for an eye. It's my debt that's been called off."

Vincent began to say something, but he stopped and asked softly:

"What's your name?"

The guard paused for a second, before taking off his helmet and unveiling that, without the hair band, his hair was a fascinating mountain range of blonde spikes, and Vincent's eyes opened a little wider when he saw them.

"My name's Cloud Strife."

"Vincent Valentine," offered Vincent.

With that the guard flung the door open, and Vincent stepped warily through the threshold, looking up both sides of the corridor to unsure the absence of guards. Content with what he saw, he turned to the guard, and they clapped their hands together in a handshake. Vincent turned to leave, followed by the guard's voice streaming after him:

"Good luck, Vincent."

"Thank you, Cloud."

And then he ran. Vincent had always been an elegant runner, with his long legs and naturally streamlined body, and so when he began to run he was out of sight in moments. He ran around the corner, sliding a little on the floor as he tried to turn sharply. He passed a couple of sentries, but the news had not yet reached them of Scarlet's death, and so, to them, he was just a man in a hurry. As he was running however, someone reached out and caught his arm, and so Vincent's hand reached towards the bayonet that he had slid into his belt, but when he heard the voice, he stopped.

"Man, there are sentries everywhere howling for your blood!"

Looking back at the man, Vincent calmly outstretched his finger and flipped the visor of the guard's helmet up. The unmistakable face of the Mideelean guard, Kiros, was unmistakable, particularly his face-obscuring dreadlocks. He looked worried, and so Vincent nodded and said composedly:

"I know. I'm dealing with it."

"Dude, how can you be so calm?" the guard cried.

"Because it won't do me any good if I'm not."

"Did you do it?"

Vincent sighed and nodded, and the guard let go of Vincent's arm and slapped a hand to his forehead in awe. With an incredulous shake of his head, the Mideelean asked inquiringly:

"What are you gonna do?"

"I have to go find Miss Kisaragi's father, so that I can get her amnesty."

"Dude, I meant what are you gonna do?"

"Oh. I haven't really thought about that yet. Probably try to plead self defence on behalf of my charge. She shot Miss Kisaragi."

"Man, that's twisted. Good luck with getting Lord Kisaragi."

"Thank you. I'll-"

Vincent was cut short by the sound of running footsteps and hollering. The guards had evidently picked up on his trail, and so Vincent nodded to Kiros and ran once more. He saw the sign for the car park, and followed the corridor to the left, pushing past a few more guards who hadn't yet got the news. To be honest, he was lucky an alert hadn't yet gone out, but-

Suddenly, the lights dimmed and a red glow was emitted from the lighting system. A siren began to whirr, and Vincent silently reprimanded himself for speaking too soon. A loud, booming voice over the intercom called out sharply:

"Attention to all sentries. This is a red alert. A Turk with black hair is wanted by the President, dead or alive. Everyone is free from their posts in order to find him. I repeat…"

"Shit! It's like a fucking witch hunt!" cursed Vincent angrily.

He ran faster, grabbing the wall as he propelled himself around the corner, and in a matter of moments, he had reached the dark, tarmac covered car park. The colder air hit him, and the smell of petrol was thick in the air. He grabbed the keys from his pocket, fumbling a little with them in his haste. Pressing the button, he waited for a beep, and hearing it faintly, he turned around and pressed it again. The beeping was coming from the back of the car park and Vincent ran towards the sound which was increasing in volume every time he pressed the button. When he saw a set of light glow from around the back of a car, Vincent grinned and walked towards it, but then stopped and raised his eyebrows in surprise when he realised the light didn't belong to the car. Instead they belonged to motorbike standing beside it. Sighing some, Vincent wearily pressed the button on the key, and rolled his eyes as the lights flickered red and it made a beeping noise, which was actually quite loud now that he was beside it. He was about to make a comment, but when he heard a din of voices from the entrance to the car park, he realised that he epitomised the phrase 'beggars can't be choosers'. Still, he had owned motorbike when he was eighteen, so this one surely couldn't be much different. Taking the helmet off of the seat and slipping it on his head, he nimbly hopped onto the bike, jamming the key into the ignition, and with a kick to the motor, he revved the machine and sped through the rows of cars, hearing the yells and shouts of the guards as they realised what was happening.

There was a ramp which led out of the underground car park, and Vincent aimed toward it, accelerating the bike as he approached it. It ran with a bump up the slope, but when he reached the top, the bike flew upwards and soared through the air for a while before slamming back down onto the road and speeding through the cold night air. The road was straight, and Vincent continued accelerating the bike, the dial clocking 80mph already, and as he burned through the cold night air, all he could think of was getting Godo to Yuffie in time. The air ran through his clothes and he shivered bitterly, and his fresh gun wound stung with the rush of freezing wind being hurled at it. He knew that there were people after him, and that patrol cars had most likely been sent out, but even with his neuroses, he knew that he was fast outrunning them all, having already reached 90mph on the bike.

However, he hadn't banked on the company sending out attack bikes, and even past the rush of the wind and through his thick helmet he could hear the rush of their engines coming up behind him. He obviously had a head start on them, but these bikes were designed for catching up with felons like himself, and he could soon see their lights gleaming in his mirror. Vincent tried to accelerate faster, and he became close to the 100mph mark, but he wasn't stupid. Soon the road would bend through forest, and he wasn't going to get himself killed. He accepted fate and leaned down carefully to grab a handgun from his leg holster, cocking it in his hand and taking the safety off. One of the bikes was coming up on his tail, and for a second he thought it was intending to knock into the back of his sleek motorcycle but, at the last second, it pulled to the side and came up beside him. The figure atop it motioned for him to pull over, but Vincent shook his head, and the guard was taken aback. Apologising with his eyes through the black visor of the helmet though he knew the guard wouldn't see, he aimed his gun at the back wheel of the bike and fired three shots, enough to take out the bike. The man and his bike fell backwards with surprising speed, and Vincent took a glance over his shoulder and saw that he took out another bike behind him He was ready to smile in victory but, before he could celebrate, he felt a hand grab his arm, and he turned to see that another rider was trying to drag him off the bike. As the man pulled, Vincent's bike swerved dangerously and, if the dispatch soldier pulled anymore, Vincent's bike would skid to the side and he'd be defeated. Vincent pulled at his arm but the man had an iron grip, so the Turk swung his arm in a circular motion, wrapping his arm around the man's straight limb. Then he pushed down, and the guard's back was forced towards the seat of his bike. Abruptly, Vincent took his arm away and the man was released, but in that moment of freedom, Vincent stretched out a leg and pushed the bike over with a swift, well aimed kick. The man crashed down onto the road and Vincent could see him tumble away in his mirror. There was one more bike pursuing him and its speed was rapidly increasing, and in moments it was on top of him. It came up beside him and suddenly it swerved to the side, knocking into Vincent's leg and knocking the bike off balance. Vincent scrabbled at the bike to regain it's balance, but he was very nearly taken out by the dispatch sentry. Vincent tried to shoot at his adversary's wheel, but the man was close enough to knock the gun from his hand and so he was disarmed. He tried to catch it, but it fell backwards through the air as his bike sped on, and in his instant of vulnerability, he glanced up at the sentry and saw that he was aiming a blow at the back of his neck. If he had been a split second quicker, he would've been able to avoid it, but he wasn't, and he was forced downwards by the force of the attack. Vincent felt sure that he had never been in more pain in his life. The punch seemed to send ripples of pain to his whole body, and Vincent began to slide from the bike, which was itself tipping over to near crashing point. As he collapsed further down however, he felt a sharp point in his stomach, and he reached towards it. It felt like an outer body experience, as if it wasn't him reaching towards the blade, but some kind of divine intervention, although Vincent didn't go for that sort of thing. He reached towards the sharp point, and when he felt the kiss of the metal on his palm, he smiled. 'The bayonet'. He looked up once more to the guard and saw that he was aiming another strike to Vincent's neck, and the Turk was fully aware that another one like last time could knock him out or potentially kill him, so timing was key. As the guard began to thrust down, Vincent grabbed the handle of his blade, and in the last split second before the guard struck him, Vincent swept out of the way, turning his body and rapidly moving from his path, in time to slash the tyres of the bike and jam the bayonet into the spokes of the bikes wheel. In a second, the dispatch sentry realised what Vincent had done, but he had no time to do anything about it and was flung forwards over the handles as the bike upturned in the blink of an eye with the force of 100mph. Looking in the mirror, Vincent could see no other lights, and so he slowed down a little as he saw the forest road approaching him fast. He was so close to Wutai that he could nearly smell the mix of steamed buns and cherry blossom that seemed to hang through the town, but he was just willing for Yuffie to hang on, just a little longer…

"It's all right Miss Kisaragi. I'm just going to take out the bullet."

Asako held up a fine pair of medical tongs to Yuffie's eyes so that the Princess knew what Asako was doing. Lifting the girl's shirt to her ribs, the Doctor dabbed a wet sponge around the wound, and Yuffie cried out weakly, more of a mew than anything else.

"I know, Love, I know it hurts. But you'll be better soon. Vincent's taking care of everything."

"…Vincent?" Yuffie managed faintly.

"That's right," nodded Asako as she wiped more blood away from the bullet wound, "He's gone to Wutai. He's in no end of trouble though, Miss Kisaragi. The red alert went out just a little while ago."

"Will he… Will he be okay?" Yuffie breathed worriedly.

Talking about Vincent seemed to soothe Yuffie, or at least it seemed to distract her from the stinging pain of her wound, and so Asako continued talking.

"Of course he will. He's stronger than even he realises, and it doesn't just come from his training. He'll go through Hell and high water, my dear, and he'll still come back with only a few scratches."

"…It… It's my fault Nana…"

"Vincent said the same thing before he left. He would never blame you, Miss Kisaragi, and neither would anyone else."

Yuffie had been calling Asako 'Nana' for a while, and she just let her do it. She didn't mind, and Yuffie was drifting often between clarity and ambiguity. Wiping a little more at the wound, Asako decided it was ready, and she stood up over Yuffie's stomach to glean a better view.

"Brace yourself, Miss Kisaragi. This is going to hurt a lot, but it'll be better afterwards."

Yuffie tired to say something but, before she could manage to choke out the words, Asako had opened the wound with her tongs, and the Princess of Wutai screamed with the explosion of pain. She writhed around, more animated than she had been since she was shot, flailing her arms wildly, her screams of terror and pain reverberating around the room. Asako gently thrust the tongs further into the wound, searching around for the bullet. Beads of sweat and tears were running down Yuffie's face and her teeth were set together as she tried to quell the pain, but to no avail. Finally, Asako touched something metal, and she wrapped the tongs around it and pulled it quickly out. She had no time for victory though, as the second she pulled it out, gushes of blood sprung forth from the wound and pooled out over Yuffie and the bed. She grabbed cloths from the one of the cabinets and began to swab the bullet wound, before, with a shake of her head and a sigh, she breathed hopefully:

"Hurry up Vincent. Please…"

Vincent drove through the Wutaian plains without any further hitch. Even if there were more people following him, he had too much of a head start, and they'd have to deal with the disgraced soldiers before they could get to him. As he drove, he could see the moonlight hit lakes and ponds which were dotted about the Wutaian countryside, and they glowed and danced with ethereal colour as he drove by. Wutai was such a beautiful country and he could understand why Godo was so reluctant to let ShinRa rip it to pieces, but it had caused so much hurt that Vincent was beginning to question the point of it.

As he drove up a slight slope, he began to see the tops of peaked roofs appear from the top of the horizon., and he smiled in relief as the moonlight descried the shape of the sleepy town of Wutai. The many faces of Da Chao caught the ghostly light, their perfectly carved facets and curves visible even from Vincent's distance. He had never seen it properly before; Last time he was here, collecting Yuffie, was his first visit to the quiet, tourist town, and he had hardly gone the scenic route. All of their fierce yet kind eyes were trained upon him, and the view was eerie, but Vincent could hardly tear his eyes away. Glaring defiantly at the central face, he growled threateningly:

"Leviathan, you'd better have heard that fucking prayer."

He sped noisily but sleekly through the night, his sights set on one place only: Towering high above the other buildings in Wutai stood the famous five-tiered pagoda where the mighty Lords and warriors of Wutai studied and fought. Vincent assumed that were he to look anywhere for Lord Godo, that was as good a place to start as any.

His swung his bike around ninety degrees as he approached the gate, stopping abruptly and skidding sideward with impressive control. The sleepy gate warden was rudely awoken by the noise, and when he saw the tall, intimidating man demount the bike, reach into the container attached to the back and produce a rather striking silver handgun, he immediately became alert and grabbed his partisan.

"Sir, I cannot permit you to enter Wutai."

Vincent strode still towards the padlocked gate, unfazed by the man waving the javelin around, and the gate warden stuttered and stumbled after him, shouting and trying to raise hell for the Turk.

"Sir! I cannot permit you to-"

"Just try and stop me," Vincent intoned dangerously through the helmet.

With that, Vincent raised the handgun to the door, and with one good shot, the padlock lay smoking ten feet from the gate. After kicking it open, Vincent strode purposefully through the threshold, chased pathetically by the guard with the partisan. If he had time, Vincent would have reflected on how he was so lucky that a lot of guards were actually quite inept, but his mind was on other things. He walked fast over the bridge, passing the Turtle Paradise bar, the only place in the entire town that was still alive, but he passed that by without a bit of interest. The gate warden seemed to have given up, seeing that he was going towards the pagoda anyway, and Vincent was once again left alone, shrouded by the darkness and shadow of the Wutaian night. Few people would have seen him, even if the night was livelier, because he walked gracefully and quietly through the gloom like a wraith.

When he finally reached the pagoda, he stood for a second and stared up to the top of the pagoda in awe. It was an enormous structure, so elaborately embellished, bright crescendos of colour covering it. It gleamed with gold despite the silver moonlight that tried to dilute its beauty. However, Vincent knew he had a job to do, so he shook himself from his reverie and walked up the stairs that lead to the enormous engraved door, which he gave a heavy thrust to. It opened with a low pitched creak, emanating a burst a cool air from within. He stepped calmly inside, putting the handgun into his belt, and he glanced around the first room furtively, his eyes drawn to a man meditating in the centre of the floor. He wore a sky blue yukata, tied loosely about his heavily muscled torso. The man had his eyes closed when Vincent had first entered, but now that the Turk stood in front of him, a strange foreigner with a motorcycle helmet still on his head, glancing inquisitively about the room, his eyes were trained on him.

"Can I help you young man?"

Vincent averted his gaze towards the man and assessed him silently through the dark visor of the helmet for a moment. If the man he was staring at was unnerved, he didn't show it. He simply stared back at Vincent with a placid, calm expression on his face.

"Young man, please take off the helmet. I don't like talking to someone I can't see."

Vincent nodded and slipped the helmet from his head, his black hair sitting neatly about his face as it was freed from its confines. The man wasn't expecting an elegant, fragile looking man like Vincent to come to face him and was taken off guard somewhat by the foreigner's appearance.

"What can I do for you?"

"I'm looking for Lord Kisaragi. I need to see him."

"No one sees Lord Godo without going through the four defenders of the Pagoda. I am Gorkii. You will have to get past me to move to the next level."

Vincent stared flatly at the Wutaian noble, who was beginning to feel the effects of his gaze. No matter who it was, Vincent's glares could get the better of anyone. Eventually, the Turk shook his head and commented coldly:

"I don't have time for this."

"Everyone challenges the four defenders before seeing Lord Godo."

"I'm the exception."

With fast strides, Vincent began to walk towards the stairs, and he managed to get a hold of the golden handrail before Gorkii stepped in to try and stop him. He grabbed Vincent's shoulder and tried to turn him around, but Vincent continued to persevere, half dragging Gorkii in a rather ungainly manner up the stairs.

"No! You mustn't!"

Vincent rolled his eyes and spun around to face Gorkii, grabbing his neck and pushing him forcibly into the wall, before he took the silver gun from his belt and jammed it into the Defender's face threateningly, squeezing the trigger just enough to intimidate the man.

"Do you really want to try and stop me Gorkii?"

Gorkii didn't respond, so Vincent released him casually before turning back to walk up the stairs. As he reached the top, he heard a silky voice laughing prettily. He gazed around, walking into the middle of the room, but no one seemed to be there. When he felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder, he jumped and spun around, gun aimed up to whoever was behind him. To his surprise, he discovered that he was faced by a small, middle aged woman garbed in a lilac kimono, looking probingly into his eyes, as if he held some great secret within the confines of his mind.

"So," she smiled, "You have defeated the first floor. Impressive. But you will not defeat me, I'm afraid. I am Chekhov, guardian of the second floor."

"I'm not interested in that. I just need to see Godo."

"No one sees Lord Kisaragi without-"

"Yes, yes," interrupted Vincent impatiently, running his fingers through his hair wearily and shifting the helmet beneath his arm, "I know. I went through it with Gorkii."

"Then you know that you cannot see Lord Kisaragi."

"Damn it!" cried Vincent, seizing Chekhov by the shoulders, "Yuffie is dying! Please!"

Chekhov's eyes opened widely, and her mouth dropped open in surprise. She took hold of one of Vincent's hands and stepped a little closer to him, staring deep into his eyes with her soft brown ones.

"You… you have news of Lady Kisaragi?"

"Yes," replied Vincent, "I need to find Godo."

"Who are you?"

"A Turk." He sighed and conceded wearily, "Her kidnapper."

"You bastard," Chekhov began, drawing back into a fighting pose, "what have you done?"

"Business which concerns only Lord Kisaragi. Please, let me see him."

Chekhov glared at him bitterly, before realising that there was no hidden menace about him. After a moment's consideration, the female guardian nodded and gestured coldly towards the staircase. Vincent nodded and thanked her, before hurrying up towards the third floor of the Pagoda, taking the steps two-at-a-time in his haste.

The third floor was a smaller room, but the tiny details of the paintings and the elaborate characters on the shoji made the chamber grander still. To Vincent's curiosity, a child who could be no more than twelve was sat in the corner, sitting cross-legged on a large cushion and engrossed in a book. Without looking up, the child commented monotonously:

"So, you've defeated the initial two bah-de-blah-de-blah."

Vincent raised his eyebrows at the child who sounded bored with the situation. Slamming the book closed, the child leapt onto his feet and put his hands on his hips in annoyance.

"Y'know, I was beginning to enjoy that book! Can't ya come back tomorrow so's I can beat ya then?"

"I'm afraid there'll be no time tomorrow," replied Vincent with bemusement.

"Oh yeah? Why's it gotta be tonight?"

"I must speak with Lord Kisaragi."

"Well, sorry Buster. I'm the world famous Shake, ain't no one getting through me!"

"World famous? I'm afraid we must evidently be a bit behind the latest news back in Nibelheim if I've never heard of you," commented Vincent with an obscure smile on his face.

"Hey! You trying to talk down to me Pretty Boy?"

"Boy? You are the child here, not me."

"Take that back you jerk!"

Vincent shook his head and folded his arms in an attempt to be insufferable. If Yuffie could have seen him, she would've just laughed in his face and given him a crash course in being obnoxious to infants, but at least he was trying. Shake began to growl, and he ran angrily at Vincent, who just spun around the child as he reached him, and ran towards the stairs. Shake began to follow him but, remembering that he wasn't allowed to go up the floors without permission, he whined awkwardly before stamping his foot childishly and returning to his cushion to read his book.

Vincent, on the penultimate floor, was beginning to feel hopeful, and so when he found himself faced by a blocky man in a moss green yukata, he thought nothing of it. The man didn't move when Vincent reached the top of the stairs, except that he folded his arms with a grunt. Vincent stood in front of him and stared mistrustfully into his eyes, waiting for the man to speak. Finally he did, and he boomed at Vincent:

"I am Staniv. I have heard that you've been making trouble for the other three floors. I will not be so easy to dupe."

"You don't understand, Lord Staniv," replied Vincent with eloquent manners, "I must see Lord Godo immediately. It concerns his daughter."

"You have news of the Princess?" Staniv asked, his eyes softening at Yuffie's mention. "Where is she?"

"She's being held at the ShinRa base. She's been hurt."

Staniv's hands clenched when he heard this, and he eyed Vincent dangerously. The Turk frowned in bewilderment, backing away a little from the seething man who was advancing upon him severely, an angry fire burning in his light blue eyes.

"You hurt Miss Kisaragi?"

"No," Vincent corrected him patiently, "I'm here to help her."

"Why should I believe you?

"I cannot prove my innocence to you, but you have to believe me that I would never hurt Yuffie. She's… I wouldn't."

The man judged Vincent warily, his hands still not unclenching by his side. His mouth was sat hard into a scowl, but despite the cold glare that the Turk regarded him with, honesty still gleamed in his eyes. With a sidelong glance at him, Staniv demanded testily:

"How do you know where she's been taken?"

"Because," Vincent sighed, "I was the Turk assigned to kidnap her."

Staniv's knuckles cracked as he clenched them harder and as he advanced on Vincent, the anger in his eyes blazing into a roar, and the Turk didn't even try to move out of the way as the Guardian aimed a hard, vengeful punch into his face. Vincent was struck down to the ground, his helmet rolling across the ground, and he could feel blood trickle from his bottom lip. He groaned with the pain and coughed out a splattering of blood, but still he managed to push himself up and face the man. Staniv rushed at him, backhanding him across the face, before pinning Vincent against the wall with his bulky forearm, but the Turk still made no move to fight him.

"Why?" Staniv roared angrily, "Why aren't you fighting back!"

"Because I deserve your punishment," Vincent replied with as much calmness as he could muster through his choked windpipe, "Because I've done wrong by Miss Kisaragi."

Staniv frowned in confusion, before he stepped away, releasing the lean man to rub his neck with a grimace. The Guardian shook his head and grabbed Vincent around the top of his neck, dragging him closer to inspect his face for any traces of fallacy or falseness.

"You can tell Lord Kisaragi where his daughter is?" he asked when he found none.

"That's right," Vincent answered.

"... You," growled Staniv, evidently not swayed in his resentment for Vincent, "Go and see Godo. But if you don't bring back the Princess, I won't hesitate in killing you."

He then released Vincent with a push, and he walked to the centre of the room and sat down cross legged on the silk threaded carpet, glaring once more at the foreigner before closing his eyes and breathing deeply and slowly in the relaxation of meditation. Vincent stood for a moment, wiping the back of his hand across his dripping mouth, until he nodded to himself and relinquished his helmet from where it had stopped rolling. He made to stride up the stairs, but he stopped himself and said softly to Staniv:

"Thank you. I won't let you down. I won't let Yuffie down."

Staniv made no move to show that Vincent's words affected him, and so the Turk transcended the ornate, golden stairs without another word, but when he was out of earshot, the Guardian opened his eyes and dismissed his façade of indifference, before whispering emptily:

"Thank you…"


"Yes Miss Kisaragi?"

Yuffie's mouth moved slowly and she rasped incoherently. Asako smoothed down Yuffie's brown hair gently before she lifted a cup to the girl's dry lips, tipping a little to try and make her drink. The Princess lifted her head from to pillow and forced some of the iridescent liquid down, but most of it found its way onto the bed sheet lying atop her. She flopped her head back down onto the pillow, breathing heavily, and swallowed thickly. Her face was covered in sweat and she had a fever running high; her mind was addled by the illness, but still she tried to speak.

"What is it Miss Kisaragi?"

"I… I…"

"Don't worry, dear, just have a rest."

But Yuffie was determined to tell Asako what was on her mind, and she channelled her energy into managing to speak. The Doctor sat beside her on the side of the bed, ceasing her fussing in order to help her get her message across. Taking a deep breath, Yuffie grated painfully through the confusion of her fever:

"Vincent… Love him…"

Vincent arrived at the top of the golden staircase and was dazzled by the grandeur and opulence of the final and most revered of the floors. Many people had lost their lives to try and see this room; Vincent just hoped that Yuffie's life wouldn't be forfeit for his presence there. Sitting on a futon pushed to the side of one of the walls, a tall, heavily muscled, Wutaian man sat reading through scrolls and scratching his beard thoughtfully. He looked to be a serious man, his brow furrowed assiduously and his eyes trained firmly on the task at hand, the complex characters filling his mind. Vincent was almost wary of disturbing his studious figure, but he knew that he too had an important job to attend to. However, the moment that Vincent opened his mouth to speak to the man, he cut him short and said:

"You've defeated the first four Guardians of the Leviathan Pagoda?"

Shaking his head gently, his hair falling in front of his eyes with stubborn determination, Vincent replied somewhat vigilantly but with a polite and respectful tone to his quiet voice:

"No Kisaragi Godo," he began, "But-"

"No one," Godo interrupted, not listening to what Vincent had to say, "challenges the Lord of the Pagoda without defeating the four Guardians beforehand."

"But Lord Kisaragi-"

"There are no exceptions."

"I'm not here to-"

"The pagoda is sacred," Godo preached diligently, almost unaware that Vincent was protesting, "Your very presence here could be regarded as sacrilege."

"Lord Kisaragi, I know-"

"However, you are a foreigner to these parts, I can tell, and so your ignorance can be forgiven, but I must ask you to leave."

"Please, just let me-"

"Please leave, young man."

"I just need to-"

But Godo seemed insufferably determined not to listen to the poor Turk, who was getting more annoyed every time the Lord of Wutai stopped him talking. He stood haplessly in the centre of the room, frowning impatiently at the older man who had returned to staring industriously at the scrolls that lay before his feet. Walking a little closer, Vincent called softly:

"Please Lord Kisaragi. I didn't come here to fight you. I came here-"

"No," Godo insisted firmly, "I will not hear you out until you have defeated the four Guardians. That is our law, and it stands without exception."

Having grown both bored and desperate, an unwise combination, Vincent rolled his eyes and snatched his gun from where it hung from his belt, and he aimed effortlessly it at the floor directly before where Godo sat, before he fired the bullet and stood his ground. Godo jumped and made a noise when he heard the shot, but when he saw the smoking hole in the carpet and the splinters of wood he looked meekly up into Vincent's sombre face and asked:

"What do you want?"

"I know where your daughter is. I know where Yuffie is being held, and her life depends on your haste. Please, hear me out."

At the mention of Yuffie's name, Godo's eyes shot back up to hold Vincent's stare desperately and he muttered hopefully:

"My… daughter? She's still alive?"

"Just barely," admitted Vincent, "but I think she'll stand more of a chance of living it you bring her home. Please, go to the ShinRa base south of Wutai, she's being held there. I think the President would be willing to barter for her life if you appeared."

"So," growled Godo, a gleam of tears in his eyes, "The ShinRa are behind this."

"You didn't get a telegram?"

"What telegram?"

"God damn," muttered Vincent, more to himself than to Godo, "They weren't planning on returning her at all."

"What do you mean?"

"It's nothing. It's of little consequence now."

"How do you know where she is? How do you know any of this?" He narrowed his eyes at Vincent's suit, before crying angrily, "You! You're a Turk!"

"That's right," agreed Vincent hastily, "But it's not what you think. Yes, I was the Turk assigned to kidnap her, but I'm not here to bargain with Yuffie's life or the land of Wutai. I just want to help get Yuffie home. I made her a promise, and I intend to keep it. Please, I promise you that I'm telling the truth. Please hurry."

Godo stood up and walked to stand in front of the Turk. Though Godo was tall, he was not as tall as Vincent, but the Turk still felt intimidated by the solemn, powerful man. His dark, tilted eyes were scanning Vincent's face quickly, and he was silent for a moment before he asked in a gentler voice:

"How is she? What did she say?"

"She is being taken care of in the infirmary. No one knows she's there yet except for Dr Kadowaki, and I trust her with Yuffie's life. Before I left, she asked if she could see you."

"Why are you risking your job to help her?"

"We've… grown close over the past three days. I promised her that I'd take care of her."

"… Grown close?"


"What do you mean by 'grown close'?" Godo questioned shrewdly, his voice growing dangerously low.

"There's no time for this Lord Godo," Vincent replied coolly.

"What do you want me to do? Could you not bring her here yourself?"

"No. I'm in trouble with ShinRa myself. It would have been unsafe to bring her. Her condition wasn't stable enough."

"Her condition? What actually happened to my daughter?"

"Scarlet Donovan, Head of Weapons Development, attacked Yuffie early this morning. She shot her, and subsequently I shot Scarlet."

"You shot Miss Donovan? For the sake of my daughter?"

"…Yes," replied Vincent carefully.

Godo sat back down on the futon, wrapping his loosely tied, crimson yukata tighter about himself for want of something more useful to do. He absently swept the scrolls onto the floor and crossed his legs, staring up at Vincent through loose strands of greying chestnut hair. Finally, he asked the Turk, with a strange vulnerability that even Yuffie had probably never heard from him:

"What do you want me to do, Turk?"

"I want you to get Yuffie. I want you to go to the base and get her back. I want you to ensure that my promise to her isn't broken. I want her to live."

The early pink rays of sunlight were beginning to shine over the peaks and troughs of the bumpy Da Chao mountain range and as the two powerful men stood staring at each other across the room, the serene dawn light projected hues of yellows and pinks and oranges onto their faces, a calming influence on both of them. The room was lit by the colour and the shine, and Vincent tore his eyes away from Godo's to look at it briefly, gleaming in it's ornate beauty.

"I need her to live."

Godo nodded slowly, casting his eyes to the ground. He felt that he could understand now; the look in Vincent's eyes, the softness in his voice when he mentioned her name. His daughter needed saving, and by Leviathan's torrent, he would do it..

"I'll go," conceded Godo, "But I don't know what to do when I get there."

"I'm no ruler, Lord Kisaragi. I'm afraid I don't know what to tell you."

"You're not a ruler, you aren't a Turk, you're evidently a rather sub-par kidnapper," commented Godo with a hint of wit, "What are you then, Mr...?"

"Valentine," replied Vincent, "Vincent Valentine. I'm... a friend."

"A friend," Godo mused softly to himself, before remembering himself and saying to Vincent: "I'll go. My daughter is in trouble, and I'm not going to leave her in her time of need. I'm taking the four Guardians though, Valentine. I understand that you cannot go back to help me get my daughter, and so I am entrusting you with the protection of the Pagoda."

"Is that wise?"

"You tell me."

Vincent regarded Godo for a moment, mistrust in his eyes. Soon, however, his gaze relented, and he nodded softly.

"I'll be here."

"Kisaragi Godo," the President greeted solemnly as he motioned towards the empty chair in front of his desk, "Whatever brings you here, to our humble base?"

"Please, President ShinRa, spare me the pleasantries."

"Straight to business then," replied ShinRa, nodding his head, "I suppose you're here to negotiate how much of your mountain we're allowed to mine?"

Godo sat down, flanked on both sides by a pair of Guardians, Staniv and Chekhov to his left, and Shake and Gorkii to his right. They stood tall and regal, nobility and power shining in their proud eyes, but the President showed no interest in them at all. Instead, his cold eyes were trained firmly on Godo, who was glaring firmly back.

"You know that isn't what I'm here for, ShinRa."

"Ah. I see our renegade Turk went straight to Wutai. It's most disappointing, it really is, he was our most promising Turk. A few stints in the mako shower and he would've been unstoppable."

"That's inhuman," Godo muttered with a growl.

"No, Godo, Vincent is inhuman," snarled Shinra, slimming his fist down on his desk, "Before this assignment, he had murdered countless people in cold blood without batting an eyelid. He is a murderer, and whatever relationship he seems to have with your daughter can never change the fact that underneath his benevolent exterior, he is a ruthless killer!"

"He cares for my daughter."

"He's dangerous."

"I just want my daughter back, ShinRa. Your feud with Valentine does not have to interfere with my daughter."

"But it does," ShinRa informed him, "Because our best weapons technician was murdered for your daughter's sake. Scarlet will be sorely missed."

"That was the Turk's prerogative."

"But our company lost a good woman to that murderer," ShinRa hissed.

"What do you want from me? I can't make Scarlet live again, I just want my daughter back."

"I want a portion of your mountain," ShinRa demanded, holding a hand up to Godo's face as the Lord of Wutai began to protest, "Not all of it, Kisaragi, just some of it. This whole thing will be over if you just co-operate, and little Miss Kisaragi will be returned safely to you."

"She's been injured. Don't think that Valentine didn't tell me that. Scarlet shot her."

"An eye for an eye. Our mortician says that she was shot four times before she died."

"Yuffie doesn't know how to handle a gun."

"It may not have been Yuffie who fired the gun. However, the same principal applies."

Godo paused, and the four Guardians exchanged a look of worry. Was their Lord relenting? They couldn't expect him to forfeit his own daughter for the sake of the holy mountain, but how much would ShinRa ask for? A slip of paper hovered across the desk towards Godo, who snatched out of the air and scanned it hesitantly. He frowned as he read the figures, before looking back up at ShinRa and demanding angrily:

"Is this some kind of joke?"

"Whatever do you mean, Lord Kisaragi?"

"Fifteen percent from the back of the mountain range? You'll be nearly three miles away from Wutai!"

"Is there something wrong with that?"

"You're not asking for more?"

"We don't need any more than that. Why should we interfere with Wutai needlessly. I am no warmonger. I just want fifteen percent of your mountain range in exchange for your daughter. I don't think that's too unreasonable, do you?"

"N-no," agreed Godo, his brows furrowed in confusion, "I... I will have to discuss this with my cohorts."

"Sir," Staniv said quickly, "I think you should sign."

Nodding dumbly, Godo picked up a heavy silver pen from the leather topped desk, and he signed the immaculate piece of paper with a set of characters, before handing it silently back to the President, who seemed to regard it rather boredly. He gestured towards the door absently and said with an air of finality about his voice:

"Right, Rude will show you where your daughter is being treated. Rude, if you will?"

A tall, imposing man stepped out from the corner of the room, glaring at the group of Wutaian nobles through a pair of nearly opaque black sunglasses. With a fake smile, ShinRa waved his hand at the five and chimed brightly:

"Ja ne, Kisaragi Godo."

"One more thing," Godo suddenly said, "Valentine. I want your promise that you won't continue pursuing him."

"Is that really your business?"

"Yes. I owe him everything."

"It matters little to me. Let the vigilante live."

"Thank you, President Shinra."

I must be having another one of those whatdyamacallits, uh, hallucinations, Yuffie thought to herself when she saw a familiar figure standing in the doorway of her infirmary room. The figure approached her and knelt beside the bed, before whispering softly:

"It's all right Darling. I'm here to take you home. Silly girl."

Yuffie sat up in her bed weakly, rubbing her eyes mistrustfully, but when her focus came back, and the same, yukata clad old man with thick greying hair and solemn brown eyes was still sitting in front of her, she plucked up the courage to mew happily:


Godo nodded mutely, eyes collecting in his brown eyes, Yuffie launched herself at her father, despite the pain she still felt. She wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed him tightly, openly sobbing. Holding his daughter, Godo looked up and silently thanked Leviathan for delivering his daughter. Asako stood in the doorway, smiling softly, before she walked in and commented quietly:

"Maybe it's time for you to take her home, Lord Kisaragi?"

"Thank you for taking care of her."

"It's not me who deserves your thanks," Asako informed him primly, before she asked in a quieter voice, so that Yuffie couldn't hear, "What bout Vincent. Is he...?"

"He's fine, Mrs Kadowaki. He's waiting for Yuffie at Wutai."

"I don't understand what happened between those two, but Vincent will take care of her."

"I know," Godo admitted, "I know."

"I'll take her."

"Don't be silly. She's my daughter. I'm taking her to my house."

"I think it would be better for her if she stayed in her own house. I'll look after her, Lord Kisaragi."

"I want my daughter home with me."

"I promis-"

"Yes, I know you promised her that you'd look after her. And you have Valentine, you have taken care of her. You can come see her every day until she wakes up. She's exhausted, and she just needs to rest."

"I can provide her with rest. I'll take her to her own house. She won't leave Wutai, not like this."

"You need to recover yourself. You've been wounded over these past few days, I hear from Doctor Kadowaki. Why don't you rest up as well, so that you can be as good as new for when she wakes up?"

"I'm fine. Asako looked after me. It was more superficial than she made out, she just fusses."

"You won't relent on this, will you."

"No. I want to take care of her myself. I'm not going to try and stop you seeing her. I would just prefer it if she was with me, that's all."

"Take good care of her Valentine."

"I will."

Yuffie made a little groaning noise as she woke up, arching her back as she stretched with a noisy quasi-shriek of satisfaction. The bright sunlight poured down onto her face through the open window, and a warm, glowing breeze swept through her room, tainting her dark wooden floorboards with light. The birds outside chirped merrily, perched on the arms of the maple that stood directly beside her window, a few branches poking in front of the opening. She smiled and pulled her soft covers back up to her chin and rolled over to face her yellow painted wall, revelling in the cosiness of the bed and the tick, fluffy pillows her head was perched on. Life didn't get much better than that. Waking up in the afternoon, all set for a lazy day of sunlight and freedom.


"Holy crap!" she cried as she sat up suddenly in bed, hands clenching hard onto the bedcovers, "I'm outside!"

She stood up, ignoring the dull ache in her stomach, and she paced around the room desperately, touching all of her familiar belongings and praying that she wasn't in the midst of a beautiful dream. She picked up her huge pink cat teddy and she hugged it tightly, tears of joy spilling out the sides of her green eyes as she danced around the room.

"I'm free! I'm home! I'm... Wait. Where's Vincent?"

Her stomach gave a lurch as she realised that he wasn't in her room, and she dropped the teddy in favour of running out onto the landing and grabbing the banister, leaning over the stairwell to look down the stairs. Jumping down them three-at-a-time, Yuffie ran down into her living room, scanning it quickly before sliding over the wooden floor into the kitchen where she skidded to a halt and smiled in relief.

Sitting at the kitchen table, his cheek pressed to the surface and his breathing heavy, Vincent slept peacefully. Cleanly washed clothing was scattered across the floor and hanging idly out of the mouth of the washing machine, and Vincent had obviously been trying to sort it into piles when he had fallen asleep. One of her tops was clasped tightly in his hand, and Yuffie giggled when she eased it gently from his grip.

"Silly Vincent. Remember? You can't get the hang of washing machines."

Vincent stirred softly as the smell of cooking wafted about the room. He lifted his head slowly from the kitchen table, his hair falling annoyingly in front of his eyes, but he tossed his head to get it out of the way to be greeted by a sight that made his heart leap.


"Morning Vinnie. Or should I say afternoon?"

"How long have you been up? No, don't answer that, it's not important!" cried Vincent in a rare bout of overwhelming excitement.

He stepped swiftly to her side, where she held out her arms to him and wrapped them around his neck. He squeezed her tightly, lifting her clean of the ground as he embraced her tightly, and she kissed his porcelain cheek fiercely as she turned her head towards him.

"Vincent! When I woke up and you weren't there, I was so scared!" she cried, "Don't do that to me again, you rat bastard!"

"I won't. I'm sorry," Vincent mumbled into her shoulder, "I shouldn't have fallen asleep."

"It's all right," Yuffie whispered gently, "It's all right. You're here, so everything is all right."

Vincent dropped her lightly onto her feet again and looked down at her, blue eyes full of hope. He was smiling, and Yuffie took a mental picture of his smile in her mind, never wanting to forget it. He stroked her face with his thumb, bruise faded to nearly nothing, and he kissed her short but sweet on the mouth, holding her close to him. When they parted, Yuffie was silent for a moment, until she broke eye contact with him and smiled brightly around the room, commenting:

"I made lunch."

"Yuffie, you've just woken up. You should've woken me, I would have made something."

"Yeah but, Vincent, you're a guy. Chances are you can't cook."

"I can cook pasta," defended Vincent in mock offence.

"Yeah, but when I say I can cook, I mean I can cook."

"All right, I'll humour you," replied Vincent, sitting back down, "I, uh, tried to wash some of your stuff while you were asleep. I don't know it I did it right. Your friend Kami came over to help. I have to say, I'm frightened of her."

"Yeah, she can be kinda full on, but she's pretty great. What about my cats?"

"They're all fed. It was like witnessing a massacre."

Yuffie laughed and put an empty blue plate in front of Vincent, handing him a pair of chopsticks which he lifted to his face dubiously and eyed doubtfully. Putting another plate at the opposite side of the little table, Yuffie asked blithely:

"So how long was I out?"

"About two and a half days," Vincent replied, "Asako even came to see you."

"Really? She's one awesome old lady."

"Replace 'awesome' with 'fussy' and I'd say you were about right."

"You know you love it."

Vincent stood up again beside Yuffie and wrapped his arms around her waist, leaning slightly so that his head rested gently on her shoulder. They swayed ever so slightly, and Yuffie hummed a tune as she stirred the steaming food in the little iron pot.

"So what do we do now Yuffie?"

"Well," Yuffie said with a grin, "I think we should just see how things play out. You won't leave, now that I'm better, will you?"

Squeezing Yuffie a little tighter, planting kisses on her bare neck, Vincent breathed into her ear:

"I'll never leave you Yuffie. Not while you still want me around."

"I'll never want you gone. I wasn't sure I'd get through these past couple of days. It felt like a month. I owe you-"

"Nothing. You owe me nothing..."

"You're my twist of fate..."

"I wouldn't give you up for anything..."

So strange and beautiful...

Crash into him, he'll crash into you...

Live, sink, twist, fall, breathe...


"Yeah Vincent?"

"You... managed to burn soup."

'When you feel all alone,
And the world has turned its back on you,
Give me a moment please to tame your wild, wild heart,
I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you,
It's hard to find relief and people can be so cold,
When darkness is upon your door,

And you feel like you can't take anymore...'

'Let me be the one you call,

If you jump I'll break your fall,

Lift you up and fly away with you into the night,

If you need to fall apart,

I can mend a broken heart,

If you need to crash then crash and burn,

You're not alone...'

'When you feel all alone,
And a loyal friend is hard to find,
You're caught in a one way street,
With the monsters in your head,
When hopes and dreams are far away and
You feel like you can't face the day...'

'Let me be the one you call,
If you jump I'll break your fall,
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night,
If you need to fall apart,
I can mend a broken heart,
If you need to crash then crash and burn,
You're not alone...'

'Cause there has always been heartache and pain,
And when it's over you'll breathe again,
You'll breath again...'

'When you feel all alone,
And the world has turned its back on you,
Give me a moment please,
To tame your wild, wild heart...'

'Let me be the one you call,
If you jump I'll break your fall,
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night,
If you need to fall apart,
I can mend a broken heart,
If you need to crash then crash and burn,
You're not alone...

Savage Garden – Crash and Burn

Holy crapping crap. I'm finished. I'm... actually finished. OH MY GOD! I'm so happy! Would you like the statistics, because this is the longest I've EVER spent on a fic, and the longest I'm ever likely to spend. I checked out the properties, and it has loads of interesting information about it:

Date Started: 11th September 2005, 13:19:17

Date Finished: 28th June 2006, 16:56:26

Time Spent: 2002 minutes, or 33 hours and 36 minutes

Pages: 63

Paragraphs: 1147

Lines: 3490

Words: 32943

Characters: 181948

I know that's not that much compared to fics with loads of chapters and words and that, but I'm really proud of myself. And I wanna thank my beta reader, for putting up with me demanding her to sit and read things lest she want a beating. I'm after you...

If you took the time to read all of this, I'm so grateful! Please, if you can, take just a little while to review, because if this thing doesn't get any reviews I think I'll cry. I hope everyone liked the little hints at other characters from Final Fantasy, it was fun to think up stuff like that XD

I... don't know what to do now. I've been doing this thing almost once a day for the past ages, I feel kinda lost now I guess... I guess I should go get some sunlight, huh? Bloody hell. I can go outside.

THANK YOU EVERYONE! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Go Yuffentine! Go Aurikku! Go AmarantxFreya! (what the hell do you call one of those?)


Bye! I'm going to go sleep XD